Mamangam Malayalam Movie Review

Feature Film | UA | Drama, Epic, History | 2h 36min
A period drama set in the 18th century, 'Mamangam' narrates the tale of suicide squads of Valluvanad that challenge the authority of Zamorin rulers. It's impressive in certain areas despite the lack of an inspiring soul in the attempt to depict an important event of history.
Dec 13, 2019 By K. R. Rejeesh

The challenge of depicting a familiar period drama in modern times is taken up by director M Padmakumar in 'Mamangam'. It also brings out a director's dilemma of whether to embrace technology to its fullest potential to narrate a historical event. Padmakumar partially follows the conventional pattern by involving hyperbolic action sequences to herald the valour of warriors. Technically, it's neatly executed with perfection, but with regard to the period the story is set in, some sequences might evoke a lack of conviction from a viewer's point of view. An emotional layer is a subdued component in the adapted screenplay by Shankar Ramakrishnan. Besides, lofty speeches in the script and exaggerated action sequences in the narration mar the plot. Since it's about warriors and their conflict, the tale is panting for more gripping events.

Set in the 18th century, 'Mamangam' showcases the age-old rivalry between Zamorin kings and Valluvanad. In the Mamangam festival, which was held once in 12 years and lasted 30 days, Zamorin ruler challenges the rulers of other regions to oppose his authority. Only the 'chaaverukal' (suicide squads) from Valluvanad region dared to accept the challenge. Obviously, while accepting the challenge, they lose their lives.

Chandroth Valiya Panicker, played by Mammootty, who is from Valluvanad, is part of the suicidal warriors. But he survives in the Mamangam battle albeit the other warriors die. Traditionally, it's a shame not to embrace death after challenging the authority of Zamorin as a warrior in Mamangam festival. Then the viewers are taken to the period after 24 years of that incident in which Chandroth Valiya Panicker absconded.

Now, Panicker (Unni Mukundan) in the Chandroth family realizes that the family goddess wants him to take part in Mamangam and he takes the signs in the dream as her will to propitiate her. Leaving his wife (Anu Sithara) and mother (Mala Parvathy) he decides to take part in Mamangam. At the same time, his 12-year-old nephew (Achuthan) reveals that he also had the same dream. So, the family, though with excruciating pain, gives permission to the boy to go along with his uncle. 'Mamangam' enters in its major terrain when the focus is shifted to the house of dancer Unnimaya (Prachi Tehlan) and her sister Unnineeli (Iniya).

Mammootty's feminine appearance has a reason in the plot but it's doubtful if those sequences generate the desired impact. Chandroth Valiya Panicker is a snap for Mammootty when you consider the emotions he has to bring in to the role. The screenplay partially accomplishes the task of exploring the actor's unique potential throughout 'Mamangam'. Unni Mukundan shoulders the proceedings convincingly to an extent by making the most of the importance of his character. His agility and acrobatic flexibility largely contribute to the film. Of course, actor Siddique shines as a local chieftain, who appears as an embodiment of evil traits.

It's impressive in certain areas despite the lack of an inspiring soul in the attempt to depict an important event of history. The figurative dialogues hardly help create gripping scenes and the climax would be an exception as you would wonder what would be the fate of the suicide warriors, especially Achuthan.

Kaniha as Achuthan's mother and Anu Sithara as a wife, who is destined to leave her husband to fate, have very short screen space. Sudev Nair as Rarichan has prominence in the tale while Manikuttan as Moideen appears in a couple of scenes. Songs composed by M Jayachandran are exhilarating for viewers. Cinematographer Manoj Pillai and the art team have done a commendable job to make this big-budget period film a watchable drama.

K. R. Rejeesh