Verdict: Mammootty rules this period drama which has an engaging story and beautiful visuals.
Directed by M Padmakumar and produced by Venu Kunnappilly under the banner of Kavya Films, Mamangam is a feast for your eyes. Movie lovers were eager with excitement to watch megastar Mammootty wield the sword in Mamangam, with its gigantic sets designed specifically for the movie. Art director Mohandas Pallakottil is the brain behind the sets, while the action choreography is done by Sham Kaushal and background music is handled by Ankit and Sanchit Balhara. Mammootty, Unni Mukundan and Achuthan play the lead roles.
What’s Mamangam About:
Mamangam tells the story of those fearless warriors of the Chandroth family who set out to fight a battle that they knew they would never win. They fight a sly enemy at Mamangam – a 17th-century festival that attracts traders from all around the world. In the midst of the festival, as the Samudri positions himself to take his throne, Chandroth family’s ‘chavers’ reveal themselves and fight a battle against hundreds of soldiers in order to take the head of the Samudri. It is a tradition for the Chandroth family to send their young members as chavers to Mamangam even though they’ve never returned in the past. When Chandroth Panicker (Unni Mukundan) has a vision that he must go as a chaver to Mamangam, his family sees it as inevitable. His 12-year-old nephew Chandroth Chantunni (Achuthan) also accompanies him as he too has received the vision. Meanwhile, ex-chaver Chandroth Valyapanikar (Mammootty) who realizes that it is impossible to kill the Samudri joins the duo. He is adept in the art of Kalaripayattu and promises to protect them or to at least bring their bodies back to their families.
Mamangam is one of the most expensive movies in the Malayalam film industry’s history and compares itself against other big-budget movies that the country has seen. But Mamangam is a visual spectacle with plenty of performance value too. The 45-crore set, in the midst of which most of the action takes place, is magnificent. The action choreography is thrilling and one wonders if Sham Kaushal is an expert at Kalaripayattu. The conscious decision to use fewer graphics and VFX is visible. The art director has shot 75 percent of the movie using original sets that have helped him recreate the period of the festival successfully.
Mammootty‘s talent for historical characters is unique. He carries it off with ease and originality. Unni Mukundan is very real in his performance as the uncle who is taking his nephew to certain death. But most of all, it is Achuthan who stands out. A trained Kalaripayttu artist, he is at his best on the battlefield. His eyes smolder at the sight of his enemies and his face betrays no fear when his uncle is fatally wounded, just as a true warrior. Achuthan is definitely going places. Although action sequences are aplenty, it is not just the adrenaline rush that you get from Mamangam. The movie also has an essence – it is a story with political and social implications. All through the movie, the subject of war and bloodshed for the sake of tradition and revenge are discussed. A family line and all its men being lost to futile revenge-seeking seems pointless. The scriptwriter deserves praise for keeping this as real as possible.
What Could’ve Been Better:
There seem to be consistency issues all through the film. Some parts seem unnecessarily lengthy while others are not given enough time. The use of women and the female body as an element of distraction could have been avoided. For a normal moviegoer, the ancient Malayalam and its style might be difficult to follow.
Why You Should Watch:
Mamangam is a period drama made to a big budget but without any silly superhuman power tricks. From the first to the last minute of the movie, it tells an engaging story, complete with beautiful sets, action sequences and some very class performances. If this does not interest you, watch it for Achuthan – the child artist who makes the whole deal even better.
– By Annifred Solomon