B Unnikrishnan's Pramaani has a corrupt Panchayat President Vishwanatha Panicker (Mammootty) literally ruling and ruining his realm like an autocrat. When a new Panchayat Secretary Janaki (Sneha) takes charge, she decides to bring the villain to book. Panicker meanwhile dreams about further strengthening his empire by entering into a contract with a shady company for the construction of a cyber park; a project that would toll the death knell for those lush green fields in the village.
Pramaani staggers a lot, because it's on very feeble ground that it moves. There is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing new about the return of the prodigal man, and the script falters big time since it fails to offer any clarifications with regard to the motives of its leading man. Granted, Panicker had come under the influence of his step brother and had turned to those wily ways of his. But how would you explain his sudden makeover into a didactic saint?
What is the turning point in Panicker's life then? Who is it that eggs him on to the path of reform? It couldn't be Rosy teacher (Lekshmi), since she has always been there, ranting to him on and on about how he had turned evil over the years. Neither could it be Janaki, since Panicker obviously holds no soft corner for the lady. There could only be one answer then. His conscience that had remained pricked all the while with those needles of guilt finally must have given in. These are assumptions that we need to come up with on our own, since there are no suggestions in the script that would lead us to those.
Though for most her part, Sneha's Janaki remains safely under Panicker's shadow, there is one instance when she affirms that she has got it in her. Her reply to the party official, who insists that she needs to be more careful, since there is a lot of idle talk going on behind her back regarding her and the Panchayat President, is nothing short of caustic. In a scathing retort, she thrashes that bogus mindset that has become too common around us, that has fixed its eyes on the neighbor's bedroom.
Panicker on the other hand, fails to display that individuality even in a single scene. While in the first hour he comes across as an unscrupulous ruffian, there are those flashes here and there that promise of a reformation soon. And when that occurs, he changes into white from black, into an icon of truth from one of deceit. There is nothing grey about Panicker, which is what makes him implausible.
The weakest link in the film is Varkey (Prabhu), who is more of an invisible presence in the film than a real one. There is talk about him on almost every other scene, and when he finally makes an appearance in the climax, it's merely to glorify Panicker even further. His death hardly moves us, especially when the realization arrives that it's more of a ploy to keep the spotlight fixed on Panicker.
With Pramaani Unnikrishnan has moved far beyond his erstwhile attempts at direction. In the film he has shed that amateurishness that had marred 'Smart City', the emptiness that had stained 'Madambi' or the loudness that had soiled 'IG'. But the film doesn't have that subtlety that you associate with his tele-films or even that remarkable short film 'Aviramam' in the Kerala Cafe anthology.
The political ideology that the film adheres to is quite evident. The satire that finds expression mostly through Mao Murukan (Suraj Venjaramoodu) and Castro Vareeth (Janardhanan) laments of a doctrine that is rotting to bits. Shamdutt deserves a huge round of applause for the very restrained, yet elegant camera work, and so does Jayachandran for those striking melodies.
Mammootty is charming as Pramaani, though he doesn't require to take a step further than the innumerable elder bro roles that he has already done. Everything in it, be it the initial euphoria that eventually gives way to a sense of loss and isolation or the final triumph of virtue against all odds is safe in the actor's hands. Sneha is quite competent, and makes sure that her role does leave an impact.
Pramaani might have been well intentioned, but it does look dragged out beyond belief. It's a film that simply refuses to come to life, with all those stereotypes clinging to its throat.