Marijuana advocate Naseeruddin Shah stars (but does not inhale) in a movie about a dreadlocked gent on the wrong side of 50 who patrols a cannabis plantation in Kerala assisted by a rifle, a clutch of security cameras, and a listless German Shepherd dog.
The canine, named Kuttappan, barely responds to his master’s cues, and it’s not for want of trying. Shah, who plays a character named Colonel, keeps chattering away to the sad-eyed beast, cajoling him to sleep or feeding him beef jerky, but Kuttappan keeps his distance. Shah does a fine job of fashioning his English/Hindi dialogue around the dog’s reactions (or the lack thereof), but yet, Kuttappan remains unimpressed.
That will probably most likely be the reaction many readers have to this production, which has been released after a gap of several years and disowned by its lead actor. Set on a lush estate in Vagamon in Kerala, Anup Kurian’s The Blueberry Hunt is about a life-altering cannabis crop whose potency marks the beginning of the end of the Colonel’s idyll. He has been supplying marijuana to dealer George (PJ Unnikrishnan) for several years, but then the new boss Sett (Vipin Sharma) turns up and demands to inspect the crop for himself. The world has apparently run out of marijuana because of the troubles in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and the only thing that can ensure a good smoke is the Colonel’s product.
Sett brings along a hostage, Jaya (Aahana Kumra) on a later visit, and this is where the film gets very silly. Colonel and Jaya set up a father-daughter relationship in as much time as it takes to roll a joint. Soon, she is humming by the pond (marijuana plants respond well to music) and joining the Colonel in protecting his 30-acre estate from attacks from adversaries unknown, who also want to get their hands on the green gold.
There simply isn’t enough in here to justify the 110-minute running time. Shah is in almost every scene, and although his survivalist character is poorly sketched, the veteran actor does a fine job of conveying Colonel’s isolation. Is he a former intelligence operative or an Army man? It doesn’t matter.
The datedness of the project shows up in the equipment that is Colonel’s lifeline and the antiquated phones used by the various hitmen. The film begins promisingly. Its biggest idea is that Naseerudin Shah is the best choice in a movie about marijuana. Yes, sure, but then what?