"The key to our happiness should be in our hands," the grandfather advises Rajesh. Asif Ali plays Rajesh, who usually falls in the swathes of depression when the girls he loves dump him. As a sensitive youth, he finds it difficult to come out of his heartbreaking pain. 'Mandaram,' directed by debutant Vijesh Vijay, tries to convey that it's puerile in sobbing about your lost romance and instead, explore the soul of ecstasy.
Right from the off, the movie appears to be a package of familiar romance that is crude and passable. The tale attains a slight compact structure in the second half, obviously due to the incident that leads to the makeover of Asif Ali. Here, you would naturally expect a positive digression in the screenplay written by M. Sajas to bring about a refreshing turning point. But the wait is not worth.
The story of 'Mandaram', written by Vijesh Vijay, begins in an engineering college in Bengaluru, where Rajesh and his friends-Ranjith (Arjun Asokan), Nasser (Vineeth Viswam) and Tuttu (Jacob Gregory)-are pursuing their mechanical engineering course. Rajesh bumps into Charu (Varsha Bollamma) and he falls for her. But he fails to take forward the relationship even though they become good friends.
He has had such bad experiences in love affair since his school days. Rajesh leaves behind his sorrows following the advice of his parents and sets out a journey. In a new place, he meets Devika, essayed by Anarkali Marikar. Rajesh realises the definition of happiness during his journey as a vagabond. But still, the inevitable fetters of relationships beckon him to fall in love.
When Rajesh asks his grandfather about the meaning of 'I Love You' during his childhood, the grandfather gives an aesthetic answer to it. Unfortunately, the movie is devoid of such an aesthetic treatment in its romantic milieu. What is prominent is a trite and uninteresting presentation through the fairly good visuals captured by Bahul Ramesh. Composer Mujeeb Majeed has decently scored music.
Apart from rehashing a typical romantic youth's frustrations, Asif Ali's character hardly conveys anything notable as outstanding. Varsha fulfils her ordinary appearance with ease while Anarkali gets pivotal moments towards the climax to perform. She rides motorbikes and drinks alcohol to showcase how feisty her character is, albeit Devika exudes shades of romance.
'Mandaram' blossoms partially with the aid of a highly cliched and shallow tale of romance. Asif Ali's dejected lover hogs the limelight in the sluggish narration, which is buttressed by melodies from the past occasionally. The dwindling spirit of the movie craves for a befitting craft that is disappointingly missing.
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