The makers of Unni Mukundan's Malikappuram have tried to include a few 'massy' portions to spice things up in this take that follows a familiar path.
Last Updated: 08.22 AM, Dec 30, 2022
Despite her repeated attempts, eight-year-old Kalyani never gets to realise her wish of visiting Sabarimala. But after a personal tragedy, she finally decides to undertake the journey, in the company of her classmate Unni. What dangers await the two children and how does the arrival of a stranger help them?
Director Vishnu Sasi Shankar's Malikappuram is scriptwriter Abhilash Pillai's third Malayalam release this year after Vysakh's Night Driver and M Padmakumar's Pathaam Valavu. The similarities in terms of how he has structured the three screenplays are evident, in the sense that all movies had disjointed halves and truly come into their own only in the latter portions. But what works in Malikappuram is that it doesn't come with any hefty ideas or layered storylines. In fact, it's a simple tale of an eight-year-old girl's wish to visit Sabarimala, and the makers haven't tried too many things with it, once they decide to go the route.
The first half of the movie serves to only prolong it. We get a backstory of the girl, Kalyani, and her father, who keeps promising her to take her to Sabarimala but never fulfills it because of the various challenges he has to endure. The drama in these portions are familiar and it only stretches the film. However, once Kalyani and her friend decide to go on the journey, it becomes a more enjoyable affair, with Unni Mukundan's character helping to keep the audience engaged.
Unni, as Ayyappadas, is delightful in this role, which requires him to shuttle between being playful and also portray a restrained bravado. The makers have tried to include a few 'massy' portions to spice things up - especially an action sequence that has his character performing roundhouse kicks and thumping punches along with doing cartwheels and shooting arrows. It's almost like Malikappuran turns on its head in those few minutes and assumes the guise of a Telugu film. To his credit, Unni does pull the scene off but it does feel a tad violent, given the character he is assumed to be.
One of the best scenes in the film also comes in the latter half when Unni's character guides Kalyani towards the 18 steps at the Sabarimala temple. Child artiste Devinandha does a great job along with Sripadh. The other supporting cast of Saiju Kurup, Ramesh Pisharody, Renji Panicker and Manoj K Jayan get limited screen time in the movie.
Vishnu Narayanan's cinematography takes the audience through the pilgrimage, sans the claustrophobic feeling that usually accompanies the packed journey. Ranjin Raj's songs also go along well with the film, barring the thumping beats during the action scenes.
Malikappuram qualifies as a timepass watch, thanks to its decent second half, elevated by a delightful performance by Unni Mukundan.