Tuesday, December 20

Venicile Vyapari

Movie - Venicile Vyapari (Malayalam)
Director - Shafi
Producer - Madhavan Nair
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues - James Albert
Cast - Mammootty, Suraaj Venjaarammoodu, Kavya Madhavan, Suresh Krishna, Poonam Bajwa, Vijayaraghavan, Biju Menon, Jagathy Sreekumar, Salimkumar, Sreeraman, Janardhanan & others
Music - Bijibal
Cinematography - Shamdat
Editor - Manoj
Release Date - 16th December 2011

Shafi joining hands with acclaimed writer James Albert for a Mammootty film set in the 80s, would naturally garner some expectations. After a series of duds this year, Mammootty's fans were pinning their hopes on this Christmas release to see their favourite actor in a good movie this year. But what they get is an average, half-baked attempt where Mammootty has nothing worthwile to do. 

The movie begins interestingly when Constable Pavithran (Mammootty) is sent to Alappuzha to investigate the murder of Ajayan (Biju Menon) as an undercover officer, in the guise of a merchant. He meets a host of interesting characters in the beautiful town and slowly turns into a rich businessman through his shrewd business moves where he makes every single move looking for a profit. And Ajayan's enemies (2 warring groups on either side of the lake, as seen in around 1456 malayalam films :P) are behind his back too. Things start going wrong after Pavithran gets married to Ajayan's sister Ammu (Kavya Madhavan) and his life becomes entangled in a lot of problems. How he tries to get out of it forms the rest of the story. 

The movie begins on a boring note and picks up steam once the action shifts to Aleppey where the business deals and Pavithran's skills in business are interesting to watch. And you think the movie would actually be good from then on. But then comes the interval, and the movie turns into yet another cliched mish-mash of all Shafi films with the twists borrowed from IV Shashi films of the 80s. The second the plot is established, you can guess the twist at the end. The biggest disappointment is that it comes from one of the best discoveries in the writing department in recent years - James Albert who gave us Classmates, Cycle and Ividam Swargamanu. When he sets up an interesting premise which eventually falls into the usual cliches of any other such film, its quite disheartening. Shafi does what he usually does with his formula movies and there is not much of an improvement or deterioration there. He cannot prevent his audience from second guessing every other scene in the second half of the movie. The much hyped retro feel of the movie is just in its ridiculous costumes and oversized wigs. Nothing else is authentically recreated to remind us of that era or give a retro feel. The only thing they try to do is to completely ruin an old Jayan-Seema song 'Kannum Kannum' with a ridiculous visualization, where Mammootty dressed in embarrassing costumes sings & dances with Poonam Bajwa who seems like an alien to Malayalam films. 

Mammootty has nothing to do in this movie. Unlike his earlier films with Shafi which majorly depended on his comic timing, like Thommanum Makkalum, Mayavi & Chattambinaadu, this one doesnt have anything worthwhile for an actor like Mammootty, other than one or two scenes in the first half. The only thing he gets to do is to perform umpteen number of stunts (standing in one place, as usual) which gets boring and repetitive within the first half itself. He looks good despite being dressed in loud costumes and an oversized wig. 

Kavya Madhavan is quite good, and its nice to hear her dubbing in her own voice. But yea, she is growing fatter and fatter with each film. Poonam Bajwa as a Malayali girl?? Really?? Suraaj Venjarammoodu is thankfully much less irritating these days (even in Arabiyum Ottakavum he was pretty okay). Is it because we have seen the worst of him already?? He is almost as important as Mammootty in the film. Salimkumar plays the gulf returnee yet again and manages to raise a few laughs. The film's major strong point is Jagathy Sreekumar and as always, the veteran steals the show in the scenes which he appears in. Vijayaraghavan, Suresh Krishna and the other villains do their regular job which they've been doing in every other movie. Biju Menon is hardly there. 

Bijibal gives one okay song. I was looking away from the screen during that 'Kannum Kannum' remix. It is so badly recreated that it makes you cringe. Shamdat captures Alappuzha beautifully and certain scenes are watchable only because of his fab cinematography. Costumes, as mentioned earlier are overdone and loud. Art director Joseph Nellikkal hasnt taken much effort to recreate the era. There are too many stunts and the climax comes like a whimper after so many cliched scenes in the second half. 

All in all, Venicile Vyapari manages to raise a few laughs in the interesting first half, thanks to Salimkumar and Jagathy and falls into the cliche trap once it goes into the second half. Mammootty fans would be disappointed as he has precious little to do in the movie. Lets hope he does another great role like Pranchiyettan or Best Actor soon enough to get over the bad films he has given in 2011. It would be great if Shafi tried to change his track or at least try to make his formula films work within that given formula. The most disappointing aspect was the writing, something clearly not expected from James Albert. 

Bottomline - Watch, if you have nothing else to do. 

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