Movie Review: Mambazhakkalam
The story of this movie is very simple. Puthenpurackal Chandran (Mohanlal) had a childhood flame Indira (Shobhana) and for various reasons could not marry her. He meets her after a long time and by then she is already married and has a child. Her husband, Dr. Raghuram, a drug addict was in jail for murder and he comes back to get Shobhana. Mohanlal kicks his ass, sends him away and reunites with Indira.
The challenge facing script writer T.A.Shahid was to stretch this story to some two and half hours and so Mohanlal is made as a gulf returnee. He could have been a mafia don or lottery winner or superman and it would not have impacted the story, but making him a gulf returnee allows the script writer to add two extra characters to the movie, Harisri Asokan and Kalabhavan Mani, two other gulf veterans whose only job is to praise the virtues of Chandran.
Chandran is also the All Sacrificing BrotherTM (ASB), like Balettan, or Mammotty in Valsalyam or countless other characters before them. If you are an ASB, you need a large family. That is provided by Kaviyoor Ponnamma as mother and Innocent as the uncle. Then there is a whole bunch of people like Baiju, Sudheesh and Vishnu who are Mohanlal’s brothers. Then there are the wives and children whose only job is to provide a backdrop for Mohanlal’s speeches.
When you have a large family like this, you have to sing a few songs in Vega Land. But few songs will not take us till interval. So a villain character, played by Shammi Thilakan, comes into picture and tries to embarass Mohanlal. Since Mohanlal is the hero, he does not get embarassed and returns the favour with some strong dialogue and action, like in Naatu Rajavu. These few altercations take us past half time and so this character vanishes completely from the story, not to be seen again.
Then Shobhana is introduced and a new storyline starts. Her husband makes an appearance and does not take kindly to the fact that Shobhana is seeing Mohanlal. He threatens Mohanlal and his family and then tries to terrorize Shobhana. Then the family of the ASB starts thinking, “Hey were were singing songs before Mohanlal took a liking for Shobhana, so it is all his fault”. They all take turns and insult Mohanlal and vanish. A lonely and misunderstood Mohanlal is joined by H. Asokan and K. Mani who talk about the miserable life in the gulf and how they are there for each other even when the family is not. By that time it is past two hours and there is a fight between Mohanlal and Raghuram and after that the family too comes back.
This movie is like a refresher course in old movies. In case you had forgotten the story of Balettan, Valiyettan or any other ettan movies, this will one will bring life back to some dead neurons. There are a few good things in this movie. First, Salim Kumar is not there. Second, even though Harisri Asokan is there, he is controlled so much that he does not irriate you. Mohanlal has successfully played the misuderstood person in Kireedam and Bharatham and this role is not much of a challenge. In those movies, he gave a very subduded performance and he let us share his pain with some brilliant acting. In Mambazhakkalam, he shouts everything. When he is sad, he says I am sad, when he is angry, he says that too.
One mystery for the movie watcher is why Shobhana agreed to do this role. Maybe no Malayali heroines and imports were available. There is nothing extra ordinary in Sanjeev Shankar’s camera work and even a bad film like Mayilattom had better cinemotography. Out of the seven songs by M.Jayachandran, Kandu Kandu is excellent and Kantha Njanum Varan is worth listening. The film is directed by Joshiy, who changed the spelling of his name to bring more luck, but in the process seems to have lost his talent for making excellent movies.
Finally, we may be dumb because we could not understand why the movie was named Mambazhakkalam.