The film sticks to the easy comfort of the formula and image that one associates with a superstar film. Why do we pay Rs 40 and then push and get squeezed to get into the theatre to watch a superstar film first day, first show?
Most of us go not to test our intellect or imagination, but just to take a look at Mr. Mohanlal. His on screen charisma and star power attracts us to the badly maintained theatres in Kerala on the opening day, just to watch him.
And if you come out smiling, then it is only because of the good time provided by the superstar. Unnikrishnan was certainly in no mood to take chances, when he got the dates of Mohanlal.
The film is built on simple bits of screen writing fluff and is made to appeal to the highly susceptible audiences. The basic story is as old as the hills, and etched from various movies of the past- Balettan, Vesham, Vatsalyam and a few Tamil village movies of Vijaykanth and Sathyaraj!
The story may be old wine in new tetra- pack. But what makes the film work to a large extent is the director's smart packaging. Unni is able to tap into the charisma of his hero and create set pieces- comic, action, emotional and dramatic. The film once again proves that Mohanlal the actor is irrelevant in commercial Malayalam cinema, he is THE STAR.
The story is set in Ilavattom village in central Travancore's Pathanamthitta district against a Nair feudal backdrop. Mohanlal wearing designer MCR mundu and colourful linen shirts is Puthenveetil Gopalakrishna Pillai, a smart, cunning moneylender and local banker whose only interest in life is to make money. Reason- He has a past. His father (Sai Kumar) a man who was a patron of arts and temple festivals blew up his entire fortune on it and he was cheated by good friend Kurup (Sriraman) who usurps his wealth including his house.
After his father's tragic death Pillai at a young age takes over his family, consisting of his mother (K.P.A.C Lalitha) who always curses him , and his brother Ramakrishna Pillai (Ajmal), who like his father is a good for nothing guy who wants to be a movie star!
Pillai has a brief less lawyer Jagathy, the local 'Karayogam' president (Innocent) and a guy (Sooraj Venjaranmoodu) who sells foreign cosmetics to girls in his tutorial college as his friends.
Meanwhile the beautiful Jayalakshmi (Kavya Madhavan) comes to the village to set up the Grand Bank which leads to a clash of interest between the two. Pillai's sworn enemies are- Kurup& Sons (Siddique, Vijayakumar, Kiran Raj), who use all dirty methods to trap him. At the same time Pillai's brother falls in love with Kurup's daughter (Malika Kapoor), creating the twist.
After marriage arranged by Pillai, things take a turn as the baddies get the support of his younger brother as all join to bring down the hero. How Pillai against all odds stacked heavily against him, hit back form the rest of this predictable film.
The first half is rollicking fun, that will keep you hooked but in the second half it turns out to be an emotional tear jerker, with a contrived and easily predictable climax. The secondary cast of actors in the film like Jagathy, Innocent, Siddique, Biju Pappan (the ham-handed cop), Gopakumar, Narayan Nair, K.P.A.C Lalitha, Sriraman and others are all caricatures we have seen before in many films and they look like a bunch of ciphers.
Why can't Mohanlal get new people to play villain and character artists in his films? Sooraj Venjaranmoodu is recycling his old jokes and situations and becoming irritating.
Ajmal is just ok as the brother character; Malika Kapoor is a miscast as she has no nativity and lip sync when she speaks. Kavya Madhavan has a miniscule role and has no romantic scenes with Mohanlal.
The music of the film by M.Jayachandran and its picturisation is a major plus point of the film. The fast number Kalyanakacheri… sung by Shankar Mahadevan is a rocker, while the other sentimental song by Yesudas Amma Mazhakarinu… leaves a lump in your throat.
There are three superbly choreographed Nadan 'stunt' scenes by the veteran Thyagarajan, with Mohanlal using a moneylenders huge Thakkol Pootu as a knuckle duster.
However at the end of the film if you come out smiling it is only because of Mohanlal. He plays to the gallery and his over-the-top character of a village 'loan shark' with an infectious sense of fun. He adds pep, pepper and the entire spice rack to his performance. As always Mohanlal is brilliant and a joy to watch on screen.
If mass masala laced with melodrama is on your agenda , go and meet Madambi!
Verdict: Paisa Vasool