mamangam

Mammootty stars as Panikkar in Venu Kunnappilly’s ‘Mamangam.’ (photo provided)

“Mamangam” is literally a bloody saga of violence, supposedly like many such films, advocating peace! Two kingdoms are at loggerheads, and every time the festival of Mamangam (a real festival in the past centuries) takes place, there is plotting, bloodshed and mayhem because of some historical wrong committed. For this, one clan is ready to send all its sons to battle and death for some imagined glory.

The story forces in secular elements and suggests not fighting over historical wrongs, but the execution is far from gripping or exemplary in any way.

Panikkar (Mammootty), who can defy gravity in the way he is trained for combat, is a disgrace to his clan due to certain actions and lives away, after his attempt to kill the rival king on festival day backfires due to some machinations. But 24 years later, two more of his clan members, Chandroth Panickker (Unni Mukundan) and little Chandroth (Achuthan) are sent for the same mission after getting a “message” from their goddess to uphold the prestige of their clan.

Intrigue, conspiracies, a lot of cinematic give-and-take (flashback to present and back and forth) follow and finally, Panikkar teaches his tribe that peace is supreme—but at great cost.

The ladies in the tribe are ferociously bent on becoming widows and childless mothers as they believe their husbands and sons must kill or die, while others like Unnimaaya (Mumbai starlet Prachi Tehlan getting a major break) and Unni Neeli (Iniya) are shown as femme fatales with their agendas. There is an evil foreign tradesman and a wily enemy minister and obviously, they must get their just deserts.

Looking at South Indian releases this side of S.S. Rajamouli’s aces, I truly feel that the man should conduct a crash course in how to make pan-Indian films to his contemporaries. Other than Shankar’s “2.0,” which was also long-winded for the content, movies like “Puli,” “Lingam,” “Kochadaiyyaan,” “Saaho” and more are standout examples of how not to deliver entertainment to the audiences, especially outside home turf and to the nation at large.

Mammootty shows that age has not really withered his form, but we cannot understand why he talks like a gay in spurts, or how uncanny his facial expressions, body language and even bulk resemble Sunny Deol in his “dhai-kilo-ka-haath” action potboilers.

Unni Mukundan has just one expression, but Achutan as the kid is a powerhouse for his age. The wily minister does his stereotypically villainy rather well, but we could not place the actor. Prachi Tehlan and

Iniya as the girls impress, but Kaniha as the kid Chandroth’s mother again has largely a single expression.

The technical side is well-done, including the action and VFX. The background music boys (Sanchit and Ankit Balhara) are from Mumbai and overdo their octaves as well as quantum. The songs’ Hindi versions by Manoj Yadav miss the expert syntax-matching of the other Manoj—Muntashir, and the music is a letdown if the film was all along intended as a Hindi release as well. Only “Boondon Si” (the original was “Mutukki”) works, and a pat is deserved for the choreographer and the girls.

The worst part of the film is its inordinate length. Who would relish sitting for 2.36 hours in a film that deserved not more than 120 minutes? The fight sequences are so repetitious that they could have saved the expense and used Ctrl X and Ctrl V instead of wasting time and resources on them!

“Mamangam” is a mammoth disappointment.

Rating: **

Producer: Venu Kunnappilly

Directed by: M. Padmakumar

Written by: Sajeev Pillai, Shankar Ramakrishnan & Rajan Agarwal (Hindi dialogues)

Music: M. Jayachandran

Starring: Mammootty, Unni Mukundan, Achuthan, Prachi Tehlan, Siddique, Tarun Arora, Mohan Sharma, Anu Sithara, Kaniha, Maala Parvathi, Neeraj Madhav, Idavela Babu, Sudev Nair, Valsala Menon, Iniya & others

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