In the middle of the movie the loyal servant of Easwaramangalam Kovikakam, Krishnan (Mammotty) and Janardhanan are sitting on the steps wondering why there is a big family meeting going on inside. Krishnan thinks it is a marriage proposal, while Janardhanan thinks it is something else. But the real reason which were able to guess five minutes into the movie, was the split up of the property. Script Writer T A Razak thought that we were born last night, not to have guessed this twist in plot.
The movie starts showing the majestic Easwaramangalam Kovikakam which is occupied only by Saraswathi Amma (Sharada) and her servant Krishnan. Krishnan was bought to the house when he was a kid by Amma’s husband and he has stayed there doing everything from keeping accounts, cooking, washing, watering plants, shopping, and reading Bhagavatam. For the summer holidays, all her children, grand children, and husband’s brothers decide to come en masse with an unspecified intention.
At this point itself you should have guessed the story and what type characters each of the visitors would be. There is Cheriyachan (Vijayaraghavan), who plays the obnoxious skirt chaser who insults Krishnan at every five minute window of opportunity. There is a foregin educated kid who makes irritating remarks and smokes in front of elders. If you think that is the end of clichÃ©d characters there is more. There is the modern looking wife of one of the kids, who hates everything. There is Balachandra Menon, who hates his job in Mumbai, has a soft corner for Krishnan and loves the village. The only interesting character in the whole lot is Malavika (Geetu Mohandas), who has earned a bad name by writing stories about the family.
In this world of perfectly good and perfectly bad people comes Gauri (a de-glamourised Nayantara), a servant maid, who is tormented by her brother-in-law. Krishnan and Gauri have their own skirmishes, but Krishnan has a soft corner for her and protects her from the advances of Vijayaraghavan. Through various incidents we come to know that Malavika loved Krishnan once, but her parents married her off to someone which resulted in a failed marriage. These interesting threads just disappear as the sledge hammer of clichÃ©d stories strikes and we get to see yet another Manasinakkare again.
happens to the property? What happens to Sarasvathi Amma? Are they able to save the Kovilakam? Will Gauri and Krishnan get married? If you are not able to guess the answers for each of these questions, then shame on you. The bigger shame is on T A Razak for writing such a repeated story, Kamal for directing it and Mammotty for agreeing to act in it.
That said the film is not without its beautiful moments as well. In the scene where Saraswati Amma is to leave the house with her son, Krishnan is unable to say bye. So he just walks off to the grave of Amma’s husband. There are probably a thousand scenes where various guests insult him as a servant and Mammotty’s reaction for all those are just wonderful, just as brilliant as the scene in Thaniyavarthanam where a boy asks him if he is mad.
There is another scene where Krishnan is having a shave in the local barber shop (with shaving cream over his face), when the locals tell him that the Kovilakam is going to be demolished. Mammotty’s reaction to this news just shows what a amazing actor he is. (Though when he wipes of his shaving cream, we find that he is clean shaved already). His scenes with Sharada are very touching.
For an actress of Sharada’s stature, this movie does not demand a whole lot from her. We felt this was a big injustice to her. Sathyan Anthikkad made good use of Sheela in Manasinakkare, while Sharada does not even get much screen space in this crowded movie. But the way she conveys her emotions through her eyes in some scenes was just mesmerizing.
Nayantara has a few scenes, mostly sobbing, and she has done it well. There is a scene where she climbs on top of an elephant and that is when all the visitors start pouring in. The mahout (Salim Kumar) runs away leaving her on the elephant which was funny. Salim Kumar got a wonderful character in Kamal’s Perumazhakkalam and he gets a good one in too as the with some witty dialogue. The character we got interested was Malavika, but she gets skipped over and her story is left loose. The movie would have been interesting if it were told from her point of view.
When you have a multitude of characters who are wives, and cousins, it is hard to spend time to define relations. In this movie we got lost completely on who was who. Compared to this Priyadarshan did a good job in Vettam juggling many characters with ease.
The movie is filled with emotional scenes and when you have National Award winners like Sharada and Mammotty in those scenes, we don’t know why a thousand violins have to screech in the background to create sadness. Similarly when a random uncle or aunt approaches Mammotty, you will hear a happy music or violent music in the background thus giving you an indication if this person is good or bad. We have seen this abuse of background score in Perumazhakkalam and now in this movie as well. Our request to Kamal is to let the scene speak for itself and not to use music to manipulate emotions.
Usually Kamal movies have good songs and this one with music by Mohan Sithara is no different. The song Amma Manassu (Jayachandran) was excellent and so was the group song Katha Katha (even though the visuals had the usual festival, elephant, theyyam, running in the river bank scenes). The album had a wonderful song called Yaduhridayam (Chitra, Madhu Balakrishnan), which was not there in the movie.
When you see this movie, there is a feeling of deja vu of having seen each scene somewhere before. This old tale has been re brewed many times and there is no new twist or character we have not known before. We felt so angry at the end for wasting the talent of Sharada and Mammotty in this clichÃ©d story.