A sequel isn't always a good idea, and often carries with it, an enormous responsibility of living up to its predecessor's standards. And when the forerunner is one that has characters that have achieved an almost iconic status, the task turns out to be even more complex.
'Mannar Mathai Speaking 2' takes upon itself one such mission, and in doing so, accomplishes little. Mamas, plays a safe game however, and does not attempt to deviate much from the very basic plot that the original film had. The character additions are minimum as well.
Years have passed, and Mannar Mathai (Innocent) runs a tours and travels company, having long back discovered that plays and theatre do not sell any more. Balakrishnan (Mukesh) and Gopalakrishnan (Saikumar) are around as well, and do not take lightly to Mathai's plans of directing another play to mark the twenty fifth anniversary of Urvasi Theatres.
When Mathai places an advertisement in a local newspaper for a driver who can converse well in English, Unni (Basil) drops in. A surprise visitor in the form of a student who has undertaken a project on drama (Aparna Gopinath) completes the pack.
Apart from a few decent laughs in the former half, there is little in the film that will draw you towards this sequel. At best, the film might remind you of one of those stage shows that employs these celebrated characters in a comic skit.
When you hear of names as Mahendra Verma (Biju Menon) and Ramji Rao (Vijayaraghavan), you cannot help but remember those two wonderfully comic films that had rewritten box office history in Malayalam films. It's the liveliness in them that we had related to with ease, and in 2014, they seem to have lost out on quite a bit of it.
It starts off with a diamond business, and you realize that nothing much must have changed, when it comes to the very basic tale that the film intends to tell. A few surprises are indeed in store, but they do not have the capability to leave you spell bound.
The few new roles need to be wedged into the narrative comfortably well, and it doesn't happen in the film. What is perhaps the weakest element in the film, is this thread that involves Unni and his companion, and it appears too make-believe to be true.
The film does manage to work up loads of nostalgia, and it isn't much of a surprise, since these are people whom we know like the back of our palms. So when Gervasees (Janardhanan) sashays in with his legs intact along with Kanchana (Priyanka), you smile.
Performances are remarkable as ever, and age does not seem to have dampened the spirit of the three lead actors. They are as full of life as ever, and their remarks and repartees delivered with notable bounciness. Biju Menon, Vijayaraghavan and Janardhanan play their parts with aplomb.
After 'Mannar Mathai Speaking 2', I so much miss all of those adorable characters even more. And above everything else, I miss that shrill, echoic ring of that rotary dial desk telephone!