Films set against the backdrop of the sea and which tell the story of the fisher folk hat live on its shores have been many in Malayalam. However, there are only a few among these like Ramu Karyat's 'Chemmeen' or Bharathan's 'Amaram' that remain etched in our hearts.
Debutant director Shaan's film 'Azhakkadal' has the sea as the setting and it tells the tale of fishermen as well. However, as the story progresses, the milieu gradually recedes, and eventually moves out of focus. In 'Azhakkadal' the sea is a mere embellishment hence, and never for once, a character.
Kunjumon (Kalabhavan Mani) returns to the beach after sixteen long years in a delinquent home, and is still loathed by his mother and sister for having murdered his father. He has a different story to tell, but finds few ears around to listen to him. His childhood sweetheart Kochurani (Sruthilekshmi) is one of the few who haven't lost faith in the man, and when he questions the unjust local merchant (Vijayaraghavan), he finds a few followers rallying up behind him.
The travails and tribulations of the fisher folks are never really brought to the forefront in 'Azhakkadal'. A peripheral view of their lives is all that is offered in the film, and it is much more concerned about personal issues as revenge and remorse.
The non-participant role that the sea adopts in the film is disappointing. There are a few vagrant dialogues here and there as to how the sea has been a mother to those who live by it, but they never strike a point. Having been made sans a clear purpose, they drift away in the mÃªlee of other statements and are lost in the sea air in no time.
The script holds no surprise, and if you take a closer look at it, the twist would be no shocker either. It all falls (un)comfortably into a conventional pattern, and in no time your interest in the story dwindles out.
Kalabhavan Mani would do a lot better if he realized that he was much better off doing significant character roles than acting in absolutely irrelevant films as these in which he gets to play the main lead, and yet does nothing. This would be another addition to the long list of Mani starrers that have sunk without a trace, of late. And if at all he is insistent on doing the lead role, the least he could do would be to check for the existence of a solid script before he ventured into it.
'Azhakkadal' has few chances of making it big at the box office. And in these monsoon days with the wind and sea being rough, the going would be quite tough and it wouldn't be long before it gets totally washed off shore.