The much awaited ace actor Mohanlal's latest movie Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol was released all over India on January 20, in an attempt to repeat the success of the actor's back-to-back blockbusters released in the second half of 2016.
This family entertainer is loosely based on the Malayalam short story Pranayopanishad, looks like a drag for the first 30 minutes. You may also start worrying that the film is likely to put you to sleep by narrating the complex political situation of a small town in Kerala. At the same time, you also feel sorry for the grumpy-faced panchayat secretary, Ulahannan (Mohanlal), who has a boring and routine life. The film even opens with Ulahannan dozing off in a public bus to establish how uninteresting his life is.
One day, everything changes during one such bus travel. He runs into a distraction: a beautiful young lady whose husband is busy making money in the Gulf. A chance encounter with Julie (Neha Saxena) rekindles the romance in him, a man dealing with a mid-life crisis. From that point, everything in his life turns interesting and so does the film for the audience.
Tempted to break away from his routine life, Ulahannan decides to start an extramarital affair with Julie. He draws inspiration from Venukuttan (Anoop Menon), who is his neighbor and a serial philanderer. In no time, Ulahannan finds out he is one of several other men in Julie’s life and his affair even before it began. But, the romance that was rekindled in him is still fresh, which helps him remember that he is married to a beautiful woman, Annyamma (Meena). Ulahannan’s attempt to revive the romance with his wife that has been comatose for several years makes the film very engaging.
Cinematographer Jibu Jacob, who made an impressive debut as a director with Vellimoonga, seems to have a talent at making satirical comedy. In Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol, the director has taken a progressive approach while showing the modern day family problems. Some scenes in the film are outstanding — like the one where the husband reveals his infidelity and the wife, in turn, tells him about the men who approached her when he had been lost in himself or children appreciating the new-found romance between the parents.
During the interval, we are also introduced to the blooming romance in the life of Ulahannan’s teenage daughter, Gini (Aima Rosmy Sebastian). Throughout the second half, Gini’s character feels like a ticking time bomb as you wait with abated breath what may go wrong in her life and affect the life of the family who has just rediscovered happiness. It is because you know that Gini is in bad company.
The director also establishes that there is only so much that parents can do to keep their children from taking risky decisions after they come of age. And it is up to Gini to decide what to do with her life. However, the film has a happy ending and also an important message that if the children pick a wrong person to love, it is maybe because their elders failed to show them how real love looks and feels like.
Without an iota of vulgarity or scenes that make the family audience uncomfortable, Jibu Jacob has dealt with the most controversial topic — infidelity in the most charming way possible. Everyone in the film has given a convincing performance while Mohanlal and Meena have performed their roles with maturity and nuance. Don’t miss to watch this slice-of-life film unless theatres are on strike again.