It is quite disastrous once a film maker sets high hopes on his main male lead and proposes his huge fan proposition would save a film. It is too early to say that if it is the success of the formula films that has been earning big recently which prompted Lal Jose to trade the same formula where he lost to a utter flop.
Lal Jose’s new movie and the first one with Mohanlal after 19 years, Velipadinte Pusthakam, has hit the screens and is doing not-so-bad.
But the movie is too a melo-dramatic, chaos-ridden, fan-made feature and what the viewers take home is the proportionally gigantism of the actor who is visible everywhere in the movie-as himself and as a ditto character and merrily making neat statement one after another to cause his fans complacent to sit cheering for such long hours.
The film after a long title-stunt sequence opens to a drone visual of a coastal hamlet and a college. This college, Philomena, is where the story in the first-half of the movie lingers around. One might think of the campus the director had shown in a previous hit film of his during a festival time, ‘Classmates’; one of the huge successful campus films in Malayalam. Please do not set your hopes high according to that. The movie has no similarity to that but, in fact, it is far more a little cooked up version of the disastrous Fazil movie ‘Life is Beautiful’ wherein Mohanalal itself played the lead role.
Velipadu at the beginning is set around two warring group of students. One hails from the local fishing hamlet and the other from the city. The evident class divide and the subsequent truants from the two groups come at the cost of peace and calm of the campus. Teachers and priests, it is a Christian Missionary-run college, are too worried about this and they are in a quest to draw in peace and calmness to the campus at any cost.
A stunt opens the campus. Yes! It is in Classmates too the director has done the trick but with great success. Alas! What a cinematographic brilliance was that movie in setting the tone of that particular scene. Here is it too drowsy and eliciting less energy. One thought of the opening scenes as another lively beginning of a Lal Jose movie end in despair.
Realizing the drowsiness of the script in eliciting anything interesting in the first-half, the writer enforces some comedy in to the scene by placing a vice-principal who is a pervert and nepotic. He shoots video of the girls and boys sitting together inside the campus and make statements that he never would allow love inside the campus. He blindly supports the city lads because of their cultural lineage. In a dialogue his even states that! The teacher is too inclined to porn video and is flirtatious with every woman on the campus.
After watching all the stuff before the heroes’ arrival, one would wonder, how phobic and guarded are our campus turned to be in since all these years. This is one and only relevant social reflection that a viewer could read out between the lines in the movie.
In the status of total chaos that the management brings in the new vice-principal, as the former was caught red-handedly watching X stuff on the TV inside his room red handed and the character Michael Idikkula enters too dramatically with a little stunt; a characteristic trait that is witnessed in every Mohanlal film from the days of Aaran Thampuran. The warring students seem dumbstruck and feel flat for their new teacher. He has been seen as a messiah and the long-lecture he takes while during his first class about how digital technology pervades and hinter the normal life of the students suddenly reminds us of the Vinayachandran, Mohanlal has done decades ago in the Fazil movie.
With all going well, the teachers are happy, warring groups thawing, the girl student who quit over the Youtube video (that led to the first and last clash we saw on screen in the campus between two groups of students) returns to studying. Ease comes to the campus.
Where is the conflict then to take the film forward? It comes in the form of a college hostel.
Mathew Idikkula and the two other ‘Achans’ (priests) come with the idea of constructing a college hostel inside the campus. They have gained the permission of a superior and the problem that is making the situation is the fund crunch. So they decided to produce a film-not the usual shabby campus short movies- but a feature film with the teachers and students as actors to raise the fund. In materializing the dream the Idikkula brings in a seasoned film producer (Vijaya Babu) to the scene. He would give an amount to make the movie and the rest that available after the shoot can be used for the construction purpose. They even get a share if the movie turns successful.
The general doubt would rush in one is of why Idikkula has not directly appealing Vijaya Babu to contribute a sum if he is really interested in the college mission other than going for a risky plan.
In the pursuit of making the film they took up the real-life story of a local goon Vishwanathan aka Viswan (Anoop Menon). He is a Gandhi –incarnate but little believing in his ahimsa. The Idikkula and Vijaya Babu pick the story of Vishwan establishing ‘good’ in a village that is tainted by a local business man Tharkan (Siddique). It makes the second half of run-time of the movie stretching further more with pile of clichés. Varying story plots too spoiled the mystery element. In fact the talent of a seasoned actor like Mohanlal can’t even save the plot.
It is sad that Lal Jose who had done a few good films lost all his senses while shooting with a superstar. Confusion gripped each of them and that turned it to a visual mess. The casting is the other disaster of the movie. However, it need not mention since it has been made to the cause of projecting the central character and others are mere satellites. Editing is the other major disaster along with Cinematography. In most of the frame there could be spotted a bright light and one had the doubt of it should think that this is a movie about enlightenment and an additional bright light would bring it easily and fast.
Mohanlal as usual has excelled in his acting and the combination scenes with Chemban Vinod are the only exciting element that remains after watching the movie.