'Vellaripravinte Changathi' does have a few surprises in store. It follows no conventional narrative structure and depicts a seemingly complex tale with subplots that exist at least on three different levels.
For one, it talks of Manikunju (Indrajith), who has come to Chennai, in search of a job and to reinvent his father's dreams. At Gemini Labs, he discovers a dusty print of a film that his dad had directed thirty years back, titled 'Vellaripravinte Changathi'. On watching the film, Lal Release agrees to distribute the film, impressed by the work of a director who had walked ahead of his times.
Manikunju watches the film in the preview theatre, and along with him, we get to see the film itself. It tells the story of Ravi (Dileep) and Sulekha (Kavya Madhavan), who fell in love and who were destined to be separated in life. As the film loves to a climax, Manikunju realizes that the actors who had played the roles, Shajahan (Dileep) and Mary Varghese (Kavya Madhavan) were in love as well, and had eloped into obscurity on the last day of the shoot.
As the film is finally released, thirty years later, Manikunju embarks on a journey to find out more about its lead actors. All this does sound interesting, but why is it then, that Akku Akbar's film is not a patch on what you expect it to be? Perhaps the core reason is that this is a film that ought to have worked on diverse levels. And when one of these planes shows signs of toppling down, it takes the rest of it, along.
What is most interesting is that it talks admiredly of Augustine Joesph (Ramu), a director who had defied the conventions while making his film, and the film inside the film does have a climax that stands way apart. The film ends, while our movie goes on to its own climax, that is downright predictable, and truly disappointing.
It's this imbalance between the multiple narratives that mars the overall impact of the film. I do agree that it isn't an easy task and the writer has gone out of his way to traverse a different path, but I wish things looked better at the end of it all. Unfortunately, they don't.
As much as the emotional disparity remains, visually this balance is almost perfectly maintained. The retro feel that has been lent is remarkably brilliant, and just when you ask yourself why there is no hamming in a film that has been shot thirty years back, pat comes the answer - that this was the work of a film maker, who wanted to rewrite Malayalam film history through his films.
Dileep and Kavya Madhavan, along with Manoj K Jayan and Indrajith, have essayed their roles to perfection. Mohan Sitara's musical score does have a few catchy numbers as well, of which 'Pathinezhinte' rendered by Shreya Ghoshal and Kabeer stands out.
'Vellaripravinte Changathi' is thus a film that comes this close to being a charmer, but which in time, loses it all. The valiant efforts are there for sure, and it's sad that they haven't translated to film, as much as they should have.