Are You Ok Baby Movie Review: Lakshmy Ramakrishnan trains the camera on herself in ‘Are You Ok Baby’, but the meta-commentary struggles to coexist with a story about adoption

Lakshmi Ramakrishnan
The film is an unflinching attempt to showcase the making of one episode of the show, but the idea, the concept is far better than the execution.
Are You Ok Baby Movie Review

Are You Ok Baby Movie Cast & Crew

Production : Monkey Creative Labs
Music Director : Ilayaraja

Lakshmy Ramakrishnan is a one-woman indie-filmmaker industry, and she has made a number of films – Ammani, House Owner – that range from solid to superb. Her latest venture, Are You Ok Baby?, is her most ambitious yet, because it is, in part, a meta-movie. It features a TV show named Sollaadhadhum Unmai. The name of its anchor is Rashmi Ramakrishnan, and her husband is played by the director's real-life husband. The show is bashed as sensation-seeking, TRP-hungry. One person Rashmi phones during the show asks, "Why should I answer your questions? Are you police or judge?" Rashmi is bashed for being a Brahmin. She is bashed for interfering in "poorer people's" lives while wearing silk saris. Her interview quotes are twisted. Even as a cop makes cynical comments about the show, we see a woman claim that she is a big fan. In short, Rashmi, like Lakshmy, is a controversy magnet.

Are You Ok Baby? is structured like one episode of the show, and it portrays both aspects of the programme. We see the people who are putting the episode together (including Rashmi), and the politics inside the show. The director, for instance, cannot stand his star-anchor. And on the other hand, we see the subjects, the people who become part of this episode woven around a young woman who gave up her child for adoption and now wants the little girl back. Abhirami and Samuthirakani play the adoptive parents who are middle-aged, and will not therefore be granted custody of an infant. So they have resorted to slightly shady means to get a baby. Is this a case of child-trafficking? As opposed to this well-adjusted, affluent couple, we get the biological, lower-middle-class parents, who are filled with all the "vices" Rashmi’s show likes to bring up. The man is a drunk. The woman has had multiple abortions.They are living together.  And so forth.

It is really brave of Lakshmy Ramakrishnan to open herself up on screen like this, and to her credit, she does not make Rashmi a victim. But the film never takes off. It is all concept and no execution. The dialogue, the acting, the staging – everything is flat and the whole thing moves along like a clunky mega-serial episode. Director Mysskin shows up as the head of the Child Welfare Committee, and he is too large a personality to play this kind of regular-guy part. But to add to the meta-ness, he spouts some very Mysskin-esque bits of philosophy. Finally, we are left with a film that struggles to balance its meta-commentary with a story about two sets of parents battling it out over a baby. On the one side, the fourth wall is broken. The other side strives to maintain the illusion of invisible storytelling. Despite good intentions, the result is all over the place.

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Baradwaj Rangan

National Award-winning film critic Baradwaj Rangan, former deputy editor of The Hindu and senior editor of Film Companion, has carved a niche for himself over the years as a powerful voice in cinema, especially the Tamil film industry, with his reviews of films. While he was pursuing his chemical engineering degree, he was fascinated with the writing and analysis of world cinema by American critics. Baradwaj completed his Master’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations through scholarship. His first review was for the Hindi film Dum, published on January 30, 2003, in the Madras Plus supplement of The Economic Times. He then started critiquing Tamil films in 2014 and did a review on the film Subramaniapuram, while also debuting as a writer in the unreleased rom-com Kadhal 2 Kalyanam. Furthermore, Baradwaj has authored two books - Conversations with Mani Ratnam, 2012, and A Journey Through Indian Cinema, 2014. In 2017, he joined Film Companion South and continued to show his prowess in critiquing for the next five years garnering a wide viewership and a fan following of his own before announcing to be a part of Galatta Media in March 2022.