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Malaikottai Vaaliban – Blaming audience for ‘expecting more’ will not favour Mohanlal’s film; Here's why

Malaikottai Vaaliban has been receiving polarizing reviews from viewers. The makers of the Mohanlal starrer, however, are putting forward an interesting argument.

Malaikottai Vaaliban – Blaming audience for ‘expecting more’ will not favour Mohanlal’s film; Here's why
Mohanlal played the role of an uncontested warrior in Malaikottai Vaaliban

Last Updated: 11.12 PM, Jan 28, 2024


Malaikottai Vaaliban, the period fantasy film helmed by Lijo Jose Pellissery, hit the theatres on January 25, 2024. The movie, which stars Malayalam superstar Mohanlal in the lead role, has been receiving mixed reviews from the audience. While a major group of cine-goers are heaping praise on the film for its layered storytelling, technical aspects, and performances, the common audiences are highly disappointed with the film.

However, the makers of Malaikottai Vaaliban, including director Lijo Jose Pellissery and producer Shibu Baby John feel that the film disappointed a large section of viewers because of their own expectations. The producer even stated people are reluctant to accept Mohanlal’s experimental films. Director Anurag Kashyap, who dubbed for the superstar in the Hindi version of the film, also shares the same opinion.

Will blaming the audience for expecting more change things in favour of Malaikottai Vaaliban? The answer is No. Let’s see why...

Are Malayalam cine-goers reluctant to accept experiments?

The answer is a big No. The way Malayalam cinema has celebrated most of the experimental films over the years proves the same. Mohanlal made some of the boldest choices of his acting career, including Thanmathra, Paradesi, and Pranayam, after earning superstar status with films like Narasimham and Aaram Thamburan. None of these classic films were negatively affected the legendary actor’s stardom. 

Even now, the cine-goers are more than ready to accept Mohanlal's performance-oriented characters. The extraordinary reviews received by the veteran actor's recent blockbuster Neru are the best example of the same.

Why did audience expect more?

Well, let’s face it. The first glimpse video of Malaikottai Vaaliban, which was dropped on Mohanlal’s birthday last year, gave the impression of a high-voltage, entertaining period action film. The visuals, in which the Malayalam superstar is seen pulling the ends of a rope with thunderous laughter, made the viewers believe that a larger-than-life entertainer is in store.


Notably, the makers of Malaikottai Vaaliban never ever marketed the film as a signature Lijo Jose Pellissery directorial, or a slow-paced drama. Apart from that, some of the team members and industry insiders made quite a lot of tall claims, that created a false impression about the film’s genre. Later, the makers even decided to have early morning fan shows for the film (which is not a common practice for an experimental film), and it cemented the audience’s belief.

If Malaikottai Vaaliban was marketed as a signature Lijo Jose Pellissery directorial star which features the legendary actor in the lead role, things would have been drastically different. A better marketing campaign, and a clearer picture about what is in store, would have made it easier for the viewers to enjoy the film without preconceived notions. However, blaming the audience for expecting more is just not the solution for the disappointing box office performance of the Mohanlal starrer.

Bottom line: This Lijo Jose Pellissery directorial has all the chances to get celebrated after its OTT release, much like many Malayalam films that received lukewarm responses after theatrical release.