There are no directorial flourishes visible in Padmakumar's Shikkar that is old wine in an older bottle. As much as it remains a visual delight, the mysteries that it offers do not much thrill, and the story that it tells seldom excites.
The story of Shikkar takes place at Chittazha, a mountainous terrain where bamboo reeds flourish. After much wandering from place to place, Balraman (Mohanlal) a lorry driver has finally settled down with his daughter (Ananya) at Chittazha. Peace evades the man as his past catches up with him, and Balaraman has to take risky everything to safeguard his own life and that of his daughter's.
The story of Shikkar is as old as the first hunt on the history of the earth. Suresh Babu employs every known device in the book to bring in that extra bit of energy into the proceedings but the screenplay never reaches anywhere near excellence. Isn't it strange that the hero's lorry has been named Shikkar of all possible names on earth? And what seems even more illogical is the way a massive operation is planned by a naxalite group to murder an ordinary man who has never been known to possess any supernatural powers.
The dialogues often sound downright corny as well. When you come to think of it, there isn't a single piece of conversation in the film that you would carry back home with you. On the contrary, there is a scene when Balaraman sits beside his wife watching their daughter falling into sleep. He says it would take her some time to dream, and in the meanwhile, they (him and his wife) could dream for themselves. Off they scoot off for a dream sequence and a song!
What makes Shikkar watchable then is the way the predictable script has been depicted in an unusual way on screen. The writing and its visualisation of the film are remarkably different and this is why even the most pedestrian of scenes look arresting on film.
There are few instances in films when a technician towers above the rest of the cast and crew as in Shikkar. The real hero of the film is none other than cinematographer Manoj Pillai without whom Shikkar would have ended up mediocre fare. The camerawork of the film seems like an adventure in itself, and Manoj sees to it that the verve is pumped up through the stunning landscape even as the story fails time and again.
The role demands not much from Mohanlal the actor and neither does it offer much scope to draw out the real performer in him, but the action sequences in the climax speaks volumes of his dedication towards his profession. Tamil actor Samudrakkani cast in the role of a Naxalite is awesome as Abdulla, which makes us fervently wish the character that he played on screen had some depth to it. His role is more of a cameo and Lekshmi Gopalaswami who plays his wife does a remarkable job as well in her brief role.
If you happen to see a crowd on screen with people bashing up someone, you can very well rest assured now that the man being beaten into pulp would be Suraj Venjarammoodu. Jagathy Sreekumar joins him in Shikkar in the comic track that soon runs out of steam.
Padmakumar's Shikkar is nowhere in the league of several other successful revenge sagas that have been told and retold in Malayalam cinema. The film fails to stand apart from the rest of them on account of its immense predictability.