There have been films, even recent ones, that have dealt with this much discussed theme of sexual abuse. Of these films, Janakan has quite a strong resemblance to Vairam, which is very surprising, since both the films have common actors, and it's amazing that these similarities were never pointed out.
Viswanathan (Suresh Gopi) and his wife Nirmala (Kaveri) adore their only daughter who gets brutally raped and later murdered. Advocate Surya Narayanan (Mohanlal) is the only lawyer who could save Viswanathan and his friends (Biju Menon and Harisree Ashokan) who emerge on a revenge spree and are now wanted by the police.
Janakan falters mostly because it's never able to dwell on the crime itself. This is what makes it dissimilar to a film like Achanurangatha Veedu, where there is no escape from the crime and its manifestations. In Janakan, the focus is on the thrills, while the crime remains on the border lines.
There is that particular moment that belongs to the father of the girl in films as these. That one moment of explosion, where emotions no longer remain bottled up; the one moment when he simply lets go. Suresh Gopi grabs that moment with both hands and delivers it with aplomb. So when he defiantly cries out to the minister that his voice doesn't have a threatening tone to it, and rather rings with the agony of a shattered dad, the one spectacular moment in Janakan rests safe with him.
Vairam on the other hand had its spotlight fixed on the gradual, but definite breakdown of the dad. Here the spotlight keeps shifting on so many characters so much so that the intensity is lost totally. Janakan loses pretty bad on characterizations and the title role though played quite well by Suresh Gopi is no exception. Viswanathan is never really offered a chance to vent his anguish, and when he finally does it's almost without a whimper.
There is Advocate Surya Narayanan who keeps appearing every now and then, and then disappears again as the rest of the story progresses. The problem with this is, these small digressions serve no purpose except to lionize the lawyer and have ultimately no impact on the story. The lawyer hence might be the last savior left on earth for the three men on the run, but for the film he's more like a liability.
Take for instance the lawyer walking out in the middle of the night and taking on a bunch of goons single handedly, while the story (and the real crime) lies in wait. Or those numerous other scenes that have almost everyone ranging from ministers to magistrates to those hotshot cops eating humble pie before him.
The minister's son and the commissioner's daughter are too important to the script as we finally realize, but mostly look like two sore thumbs jutting out. S N Swamy brings in cross references from a celebrated judgment of the past to fix things in the climax, and yet leaves a lot to be desired.
Performances from the lead actors are pretty decent throughout; it's the characters that fail them repeatedly. Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi and Jyothirmayi do what they have been offered with ease; but it's Vijayaraghavan who truly sparkles in at least a couple of scenes.
Janakan tells a new age story that's already been told. There is no denying the societal renovation that it aims at, but perhaps it needed to reinvent its modes of delivery.
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