Baburaj in Manushya Mrugam plays Johny, a lorry driver, with an insatiable sex drive. Married to Lissy (Kiran), he has an eye for a younger girl Sofie (Oviya) who has come to stay with them. He repeatedly tries to goad her to marry him, but she doesn't comply. In a fit of rage, he smothers her, stabs his wife and murders his eleven year old daughter as well.
That's the story in a nutshell. So when does Manushya Mrugam become the investigative thriller that it is expected to be? When Crime Branch Officer David (Prithviraj) smells that something is rotten in this small haven in Central Kerala. Off he goes probing into the case, until several skeletons tumble out of the closet.
Essentially a murder mystery, the film tries to maintain a list of suspects handy. There are deliberate attempts to build up the suspicion quotient all the while, like the continuous attempts to throw a veil of distrust over the local priest (Jagathy). But these efforts do not really bear fruit since by now, the viewers have mastered every trick of the trade.
The film is also a showcase for Baburaj the actor, and it provides him abundant opportunities to boost up his macho image. Rough and quite sturdy, he plays a coarse man, who doesn't pay heed to the lives of those whom he tramples. Within in no time of arriving at the village, he ends the long winding rule of the local ruffian Vasu. And in jail, he takes on single-handedly his big-headed cell mates and mashes them into pulp.
Perhaps because the film is about a man with an uncontrollable lust, it is replete with instances of his desire finding an expression. He spends his time hiding behind the bushes near the river, where the women come to bathe. Johny soon finds a woman who is bowled over by his charms in Mary (Aishwarya), who runs the local arrack shop. This doesn't however satisfy him and neither does it deter him from peeping into bedrooms.
Manushya Mrugam looks and sounds weakest during the last fifteen minutes, when you realize that all you have been waiting for till then, was for a deliberate twist that feels like it has been pushed into the story, since someone had to be made the murderer. The natural blend of the climactic piece with the rest of the narrative is sadly missing.
Baburaj does a neat job of playing Johny, and is every bit the callous man who succumbs to the desires of the flesh. Prithvi merely adds star power to the film. He walks about in definite strides and solves the case with a casual indifference. Of the women, Kiran and Oviya lead the pack and deliver fine performances.
Manushya Mrugam that tells the story of a lecherous man has plenty of skin on show. It might not hold any surprises when it comes to the tale that it tells, and the writing further relegates it to two-dimensional fluff.