Salim Ahmed's 'Kunjananthante Kada' puts the spotlight on a shopkeeper Kunjananthan (Mammootty), who is devastated when told that his grocery shop is all set to be pulled down to make way for a highway. Having lived for quite long on the brink of a divorce, Kunjananthan finds no support from his aggravated wife Chithira (Nyla Usha), who hopes that he would finally find a life outside the shop, with the government razing it down.
The issues that the film deals with, and the concerns that it has are wide-ranging, and this is at once, the might and burden of the film. While it does succeed in parts in discussing at least a few of them quite competently, there are a few others that pop put like half baked breads from a hot oven, and a few else that stay in it till they are burned all black.
Kunjananthan's troubled nights that deprive him of sleep, prompt him to walk into the cool confines of his shop, where he indulges in prolonged soliloquies, with only a barn mouse for company. He dwells on his childhood and memories of his father, and how he would rush to his dad's side for the much prized candy on the way to school. His own son, however, looks beyond the shop and has set his eyes on a touch screen mobile phone.
The thread on marital discontent that has probably led to the kind of individual that Kunjananthan has evolved to be, is left unexplored after a while. As the focus shifts to the shop, his wife, as has always been the case, is consigned an indiscernible space in the background, so much so that she almost makes a disappearance from the tale.
It takes a very personal tragedy for Kunjananthan to ponder on where he actually stands. Caught between development and displacement, he like millions before him, finally makes a decision that is circumstantial. When the uprooting that he had always dreaded turns out to be a reality, he starts life anew, just as the mouse that finds a new abode up the tree.
The invasive arms of social networking that has made its inroads into a rural community that does not outwardly seem to have opened its doors to urbanization, make their presence felt through the mobile beeps that emanate from Chithira's bed in the dead of the night. What seems out of place is her outburst to further emphasize her isolation, and her passe statement that an indifferent husband had led her on to befriending fake IDs on Facebook.
What is disturbing in a film as 'Kunjananthante Kada' that purports to discuss a solemn theme, is the onscreen advertising on multiple occasions. It does seem fine that globalization has even transformed the food habits of the villagers, but we really do not need a lecture or even a statement on the benefits of having a cereal breakfast. Certainly not in a film as this.
'Kunjananthante Kada' has Mammootty in super form, though this is not a role that we haven't seen him in, before. The actor has always come up with unparalleled performances in roles that carry the scent of loss, and Kunjananthan is without doubt, another plume on his much crowded cap. Malayalam cinema receives a stunning performer through 'Kunjananthante Kada' - Nyla Usha - and her debut performance is astonishingly top-notch. Technically the film maintains supreme standards whether it be the magical frames by Madhu Ambatt or the remarkable sound design by Resul Pookutty.
'Kunjananthante Kada' is a moody, character driven drama that does have its fare share of sparkling moments. However, it falls short of being a classic on account of a sensory overload that scatters its themes all across.