Towards the end of the film, Sunny Joseph (Mohanlal) asks Nakulan (Suresh Gopi) to tell his wife Ganga (Shobhana) not to go shopping. She might question him, but Sunny asks Nakulan to be firm. The camera follows Nakulan as he walks into the room where Ganga is getting ready. He asks where she was going and she replies, “I told you, for shopping”. Nakulan tells her strongly not to go that day.
First Ganga asks why not and Nakulan keeps on saying that she should not go.Suddenly Ganga’s voice turns angry, her face turns menacing with the eyes rolled up and her whole body language changes. She points her finger at Nakulan and shouts in Tamil, and with the other hand lifts a wooden bed. Nakulan is terrified, but he shouts her name at the top of his voice. Ganga pauses and returns back to normal. Then she realizes that the mental patient of Madambally is herself and not Sridevi (Vinaya Prasad).
This is one of the powerful scenes in this movie which starts when Nakulan and Ganga come from Calcutta to Kerala for a project. Ignoring the warnings by their uncle Thampi (Nedumudi Venu), they decide to stay in an ancestral home which is considered to be haunted. The story is that a Tamil dancer Nagavalli was bought by the local king and she fell in love with another dancer. The king did not like this and had her killed. Her ghost was loitering around looking for revenge. and so they perform some pooja and lock the ghost in a room.
Ganga does not believe this and opens the room and various incidents start taking place. Sometimes vessels and stones are flung around, sometimes saris catch fire and the suspicion falls on Sridevi. Nakulan asks his uncle to show her to a psychiatrist, but he does not. Irritated, Nakulan calls his friend Sunny Jospeh to come and help him. How Sunny Joseph cures Ganga is the climax of the movie.
The story of this movie is very unique and has not been told before. First we thought it is a supernatural story, but as we understood the dual personality of Shobhana we got very interested in this character and how she would be able to get out of her predicament. The characters in the movie, Sunny Joseph, Nakulan, Ganga, Ammavan are all memorable and have been portrayed with realism.
Even though this is a ghost movie, there are no special effects. Director Fazil uses simple tricks like shadows on the wall and sounds to heighten the tension. In one scene, the whole family goes to watch a Kathakali performance. Sunny sits in the front and occasionally turns back to see if Ganga is alright. The sound of the drums heighten in the background. Then, once when Sunny turns back, there is silence and Ganga is not there. The intensity of the scene is heightened by the lack of any background sound, which we thought was a very innovative but subtle technique.
In this movie, the script by Madhu Mattom is the hero and Shobhana is the heroine. Shobhana had two roles, one as the mild mannered Ganga and the other as the revenge seeking Nagavalli. It during the Nagavalli phase that you see her transformation, in her voice and in her mannerism. Shobhana won a truly deserved National Award for this role.
Mohanlal makes his entry just before the interval, which is unconventional. From that point onwards, it is his show and the character he portrays is that of a fun loving psychiatrist. He is unconventional in his treatment style also. Mohanlal does not have much histrionics in this movie and plays a very subdued role.
For a movie which is a psycho-thriller, it has excellent comedy provided by Innocent, Lalitha and Mohanlal himself. There is a scene where Mohanlal goes to take bath and takes the clothes of Lalitha who was bathing in the next stall. Their conversation across the wall had us in splits.
There is only one scene which irritated us. There is a scene where an angry Sunny, takes Sridevi to a room and locks her up in front of the whole family. While everyone is stunned, Sunny Joseph breaks into a song, which was very odd. Mohanlal thinks that only Fazil could have pulled it off.
The story, screenplay and dialogue is by Madhu Mattom and we liked all three of them. There are no unnecessary scenes in this movie and each scene in the screenplay sustains our interest in the story. We also are impressed by the craft of director Fazil for making this movie very interesting. The movie also had a second unit by directors Sathyan Antikkad and Priyadarshan. M.G.Radhakrishnan has provided some memorable music for this movie. All the songs are nice to hear, but our favourite is Palavattom Pookalam
This movie is one of our favourites and is a must watch.
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