In Anoop Kannan's 'Jawan of Vellimala', Mammootty plays Gopikrishnan, a retired army man, who has been entrusted with the task of safeguarding the Vellimala dam against terrorist attacks. The villagers believe that the man had sought voluntary retirement from service, having grown scared of war. At Vellimala, Gopikrishnan lives in sheer terror, where he sees ghosts all around at night.
The dam itself has quite a story to tell, and Gopi's dad had apparently lost his life to a police bullet years back, when they had staged an agitation demanding its construction. Hence, years later, when a bunch of engineers headed by Chacko (Baburaj) decide to shut the dam down aided by the Home Minister himself, Gopi decides that the dam should stay safe.
As much as all this sounds like an interesting premise, 'Jawan of Vellimala' disappoints the viewer tremendously. In fact, the baddie team at work here almost seems like a liability for the film, and their antics including the frequent liquor circles, the chief engineer who keep wielding a gun and shooting bullets into midair, boogie dances and songs stretch on for a while until they start getting on your nerves.
Gopikrishnan, the man who keeps seeing ghosts, is poorly etched as well, and it's only towards the very final scenes that James Albert manages to add up some real flesh and blood to the character. Until then, he remains a man who is neither here nor there, who is as illusory as the ghosts that he gets to see all the time.
We do chew down the Charles Bonnet Syndrome story which forms an integral part of 'Jawan of Vellimala', especially since it's a grave looking Ranjith telling us the tale, painfully explaining to us the intricacies of how the optical nerve transfers visuals impulses on to the brain. More than us however, Gopikrishnan seems to benefit more from the syndrome, since he emerges a new man all on a sudden.
The songs in the film - one a folk song, and another one that involves two pretty lasses who come by at nights, forcing Gopikrishnan to lose his sleep - could perhaps have been done away with, since they add very little to the progress of the film. What certainly shouldn't have been there is the third song that involves a stage performance, that looks totally out of place.
Mammoottty's maiden production venture has him in the role of a strikingly handsome simpleton, which however does not throw any special challenge on him as an actor. Sreenivasan in the role of an executive engineer and Mamta Mohandas in the role of the camp officer do their bits remarkably well. Baburaj however goes totally overboard, and is quite loud at least on a couple of occasions.
As you walk out of the cinema hall having watched 'Jawan of Vellimala', you feel sorry for the film, since this was one that probably had tremendous potentials, but which failed to evolve into an exciting film on screen. Everything feels mediocre barring the acting, and for once, even the ghosts seem uninspiring.