Oththa Seruppu Size 7 is what Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects would have been, had the film been set in the detective office in which Kevin Spacey narrates his account, and of course, had the camera been trained only on him. In R Parthiban’s latest effort, the suspect is Masilamani (Parthiban), and the 120 minute-long film (which I understand has been cut by about 15 minutes since I caught it in advance) is his version of events, as he’s interrogated by two policemen. In a sense, you could argue that much like in that film, Masilamani is an unreliable narrator. He’s almost unhinged and keeps going off in tangents. It’s a film that has been—and will be—mainly talked about for its chief conceit of having only one cast member, and for being shot in a single room, but there’s more.
This isn’t exactly shot with just a single person in a room. There are others around—a couple of policemen who seem adept at the good-cop bad-cop routine, a psychologist…—but you only hear these people. It’s admirable that you are still able to get a sense of who these people are. The voice cast is fairly elaborate. There are others whose voices join the party—like when Masilamani goes off on one of his reveries, on one of his flashbacks. You see only Masilamani throughout the film, and I know what you are thinking. It must take a fine actor to keep you intrigued for as long, right? Parthiban does it just fine. The script allows him to coast through a range of emotions—sometimes, he’s laughing but the tears are full of sadness. He is well-known for being skilled in wordplay too, and he channels quite a bit of that wit in this film. He plays around with words like ‘mop’ and ‘maapillai’, the multiple meanings of the word ‘manam’. While talking about mosquitoes, he uses the words, ‘All Out’ and ‘Good Night’, as effective threats. He may have let loose with the dialogue, but keeps the film song-free. The two or three that do get used are old Ilaiyaraaja songs and sound like they are being played on a radio. Masilamani is talking about an incident of lust, and you hear strains of ‘Ilamai enum poongatru’. Later, he’s talking about rural innocence, and need I say it, we hear, ‘Senthoora poove’.
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For the remainder of this review (and there’s a lot more left, I assure you), please visit https://www.cinemaexpress.com/reviews/tamil/2019/sep/18/oththa-seruppu-movie-review-otha-seruppu-is-an-audacious-experiment-that-works-more-than-it-doesnt-14378.html