Director M Mohanan has been immensely successful with his first venture 'Katha Parayumpol',a special movie film that touched our hearts, without the usual gush of adrenaline. Following the patterns that he has set in this debut film is the director's latest release Manikyakallu'. A movie that talks about the commoner is a tribute to teachers who take up the profession with flair and passion. Following the hundreds of films that followed the similar story lines including 'Dorre dorre oru koodu koottam, and Kochu themmadi to the latest Bollywood flicks like 'Black' and 'Tare Zameen Par, the movie focusing on 'inspirational teachers' is in predictable lines from its start to the finale.
'Manikyakallu'centres around Vannanmala Government H S, a school with a lot of history where even the state educational minister studied for his matriculation. But the present state of the school is pathetic as it is almost dysfunctional with just 50 students on their rolls. The eight teachers of the school has plenty of side businesses to the extent that for last decade, no student from the school has ever passed the state wide tenth standard exam. Into this atmosphere comes in Vinayachandran( Prithviraj) a newly appointed teacher who deliberately opts for the school due to some mysterious reasons. The young blood he is, Vinayachandran tries to change the scenario, inspiring the students to learn, but also his fellow teachers to teach. The reasons for Vinayan's arrival offer the twist and drama to the story. Samvrutha is the heroine of the movie who comes in a Chandni, the Physical education teacher of the school.
The movie follows the very conventional style of narratives to present its simple, straightforward story. The director has succeeded in presenting the reality of government schools to the extent we also feel for the students and their success. With lot of subtle messages thrown far and wide with its many caricaturistic characters, from the teashop owner (indrans) to the peon (Salimkumar),'Manikyakallu' offers a fairly decent viewing for the lover of softer themes.
Manikyakallu' seems to have taken a lot from the plot of another children's movie 'Chitrasalabhangalude Veedu' which came out a couple of year's ago. But the problem with the movie is that it unfolds in a leisurely manner and is tad slow most of the times. The former half is more impressive than the later which has plenty of melodramatic scenes and songs. In fact the movie packs in six songs which pop up in many unwanted spaces. The script by Mohanan turns preachy after some time and definitely needed a lot of editing before shooting. The movie seems to repeat many similar scenes, in its attempts to glorify its simpleton hero to more than needed dimensions.
In the acting side it is refreshing to see in Prithvi in a soft role, with no hard hitting physical exercises. He lives up to the demands of the role, and will help him to get the approval of families. Samvrutha is also good as Chandni,while the rest of the cast including Nedumudi Venu, Jagadheesh, Indrans, Salimkumar, Kottayam Nazeer, Muthumani, and Anil Murali play their parts well and are very apt for their roles.
The technical side of the movie gels with the thematic demands, with the art director Santhosh Raman working fine to recreate the school facing destruction. M Jayachandran's songs are hummable and a few including 'Chembarathy....is sure to find place at the top of the charts. P Sukumar , as usual gives fine visuals. But Renjan Abraham in editing could have done a little more tighter and sharper cuts for the movie which is now around 150 minutes.
All in all, 'Manikyakallu' is a movie that may appeal to families and lovers of soft themes. For others, the movie offers nothing special and is predictable to the core. Anyhow with its share of a few very well done sequences, the movie can be prescribed for an one time viewing.