The name is synonymous with fear, but debutant director Althaf Rahman tries to present Kalliyankattu Neeli in a different perspective. The omission of cliched scenes like a witch casting a spell on spirits as well as the introduction of paranormal methods to detect spirits makes it promising in parts. Even then the tale is not so sound enough to merge with the horror drama and spook you admiringly!
Mamta Mohandas plays Lekshmi, a speech therapist, who returns to her ancestral village at Kalliyankattu along with her six-year-old daughter Thara (Baby Mia) after the death of her husband Alex (Rahul Madhav). She expects to lead a peaceful life there in the company of her grandmother. But one day, Thara goes missing under mysterious circumstances. Later, Lekshmi experiences strange things in the house.
Lekshmi comes across paranormal expert Reny (Anoop Menon) during her efforts to find out her daughter. Reny realises that a wildlife photographer, played by Zinil Zainudeen, have seen the abductor. Besides, Reny now also gets two thieves, Prabhakaran (Baburaj) and Jelal ('Marimayam' Sreekumar), as his companions in the search for Thara.
The script is written by Riyas Marath and Muneer Mohammadunni. The paranormal methods in the treatment might be a fresh idea but the tale appears to be a mishmash of events. The horror situations are not enough to generate the fear factor albeit Rahman tries hard for a makeover in such situations. The eerie effect has been downsized to portray Neeli as a virtuous spirit, who is worshipped by people in that village.
Though "Neeli" seemingly opts for a route that has not been taken so far, the lacklustre tale and further incidents affect it as letdown factors. The horror milieu that has been blended in the mediocre tale is neither pretty impressive nor engaging.
Mamta appears to be at ease with the portrayal of the protagonist. She effortlessly conveys the swaying trait of the character. The hapless situation in Lekshmi's life sets the stage for the real conflict in the plot. Lekshmi is loyal to her husband even after realising his wayward lifestyle. Anoop Menon's introduction scene is less convincing in its totality. At a glance, it is apparent that the scene is intended to introduce the paranormal devices. Nevertheless, Anoop is creating a significant impact in his performance.
Baburaj and Sreekumar shoulder the comic elements, which are not up to snuff throughout. Rahul as a selfish and dishonest husband has given a convincing appearance. Sharreth's music and Manoj Pillai's cinematography have a notable role in the narration.