Anil K Nair's Pulliman is a routine drama that tells the story of a village singer Kunjunni (Kalabhavan Mani). He falls in love with a gypsy girl Radha (Meera Nandan) but finds it difficult to marry her, because her dad refuses to give his daughter away to an orphan.
So Pulliman starts telling Kunjunni's story by letting us know that the village never goes to sleep nor wakes up in the morning until it has heard his song. We get to see worried mothers trying frantically to put their crying babies to sleep; kids who refuse to sleep until they hear themagical voice.
That was strange I know, but there is plenty more lying in wait. There is some Gramotsav coming up apparently, and all the villagers join together in some madcap dance fest. It just seemed yet another excuse for another of those several songs in the film (there must have been at least six of them; I lost count after a while) that kept jutting out at the most awkward moments.
The grand entry of Kalan Vasu (Ponvannan) is what makes us finally draw in some fresh breath. This is a rogue of a man who has made life hell for people all over. And when he casts his eyes on a woman, he makes sure that he lays his hands on her as well. Obviously gypsy girls are easy prey, and with Radha and her sisters dancing at the village quite too often we know what to expect.
Vasu does see the girl and instructs Kunjunni to get her for him. Quite traumatic indeed for the poor guy who has been besotted with her, ever since he saw her emerging out of the village lake after a bath. So he begs and pleads to Vasu and implores him to let her go. Vasu shoves him away, throws the girl on to his shoulders and gets ready to do something unmentionable when the Intermission comes up.
Post-interval we see Kalan Vasu dropping the girl down when he realizes that the love that Kunjunni feels for her is genuine. Someone who has been listening to Kunjunni's escapade sighs and murmurs that every villain has piece of goodness stacked somewhere deep inside his heart. The most important point to note is that along with Radha, the film drops down with a thud here.
Kalan Vasu disappears under mysterious circumstances thereafter. Not in the film, but from the film. The tremendous build-up that took up several scenes in the first half lie abandoned, and the film moves in another direction altogether and tells of how miserable it is to be in a village where everybody loves you, but there is nobody whom you can call your own. Phew! I wouldn't go any further. There is no point in going any further either.
There are a couple of double innuendoes in the film that deserved to be chopped off right at the editing table. They serve no purpose at all, and on the contrary are quite offensive to say the least.
Kalabhavan Mani is caught once again in a role that has been tailor made for him. Sometimes it almost seems like the dimensions of the role were later devised after Mani came into the picture. It's Tamil actor Ponvannan though, who delivers a whopper performance in this film. The twitch of menace in his eyes gives villainy a new face.
Pulliman is a major disappointment. It never reaches any level of competence that is required of a drama. Not even for a single moment.
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