For those viewers who are in there hoping to drown in those delicate nuances that bind a mother and the baby in her womb together, the wait is pretty long while watching Blessy's 'Kalimannu'. In fact, the wait could be futile even, since 'Kalimannu' is less about this very unique tie and more about a woman's struggle to mother her dying husband's child. On second thoughts, perhaps not even that.
Meera (Swetha Menon) is a club dancer who decides to end it all, when she learns that she is pregnant and that her high profile boyfriend has ditched her. She is rescued by a cab driver Shyam (Biju Menon), and together they start dreaming of a new life. Progressing to be an item dancer in films, and a lead actress, Meera waits for Shyam at the preview show of her debut film, when his car slams into a truck leaving him brain dead.
One is terribly confused as to what the actual intention of the film maker was, while crafting a film like 'Kalimannu'. While it almost seems like its major concerns were about the delightful state that motherhood is, it remains that the film eventually conveys little of the sort.
Structurally this is Blessy's weakest film till date, and though it does not have a tremendously long running time, it does seem quite stretched out, at a length that exceeds a little over two hours. What is disheartening is that almost five songs (of which four have no place in the plot) have been mercilessly wedged into it.
Believe it or not, the first thirty minutes are unbelievably un-Blessy like, with three item songs, one after the other being churned out, with Swetha sizzling in the rain and pirouetting herself as if there is no tomorrow. And a sodden romance follows, making one wonder where it's all headed.
And then the film picks up for a few minutes post-interval, when Meera's decision to have a baby rakes up opposition from different circles. When you almost start believing that the film might be about her resistance that is indeed worthy of a debate, the dust settles down and she starts singing a lullaby, which by the way, is the best thing about this film. Thank you, M Jayachandran, for 'Lalee Lalee...'!
Several social activists sashay in to contribute their bits to the discussion as to how women have been relegated to the status of a piece of meat in the flesh market, and how they are tired of being ogled at. There are discussions as to how every woman deserves to be a mother, irrespective of the life that she has been forced to live. All pretty good maybe, but which look like they have been stitched on to the account like a postscript.
These frills and flounces that make up the last half an hour of the film, continue even after Meera gives birth to her child. She goes on to win the Mother of the Year Award (!!!), and has a go at the shutterbugs clicking away, challenging them to return the snapshots of her tears if they have the guts! And the film thus winds up as dramatically as it possibly could.
One almost expects this to turn out to be the best performance perhaps in Swetha Menon's career, but unfortunately it's not. In the climax scenes of the film however, she is herself, giving birth to her own baby, and the few visuals depicting her in the throes of delivery are indeed striking. Suhasini and Biju Menon in supporting roles have nothing much spectacular to offer either.
I need to admit that despite the most stringent of efforts, I couldn't find any unsettling sub texts in 'Kalimannu'. It remains all wet and sopping, waiting for its creator to infuse a bit more form and plenty more life into it.