The eleventh film from ace director Lal Jose - 'Mulla ' cannot perhaps be called a bad film. But neither can it be called a brilliant movie. After such critically appreciated movies like 'Arabikkatha' and 'Classmates', one did expect a lot more from the director who gave us path breaking hits, even with lesser stars. An average film that may not make much of an impact at the box office, that's what 'Mulla', is. Though a colorful film that is entertaining at times, 'Mulla' falters on many counts, being too far from an engrossing stuff and is perhaps indicative that Lal Jose and Sindhu Raj failed miserably this time, trying to give a long elusive hit to Dileep.
'Mulla' takes us to the Karakadu colony, a settlement of thieves, sex workers and goondas. Here we have got every representative from a microcosmic colony ranging from the reigning goonda gang headed by Thampi Annan to Thotty Sasi, the pimp and manager to the sex workers. Lal Jose tries hard to layer the story with issues ranging from human trafficking to parent less rearing of children who ultimately become criminals. But the juggling act of creating an action based romantic comedy is too unsuccessful with 'Mulla'.
Our protagonist 'Mulla', named after his mother who was a silent sex worker known by her smile and bunch of jasmine in her hair, grows up as an orphan following the suicide of his mother. Thereafter he becomes a dumb left arm to Thampi Annan. By a quirk of fate, he spots an abandoned child on the train while on an encounter with a money lender.
He immediately hands over the child to Lalchi, a girl who is a regular traveler in the train. Lalchi, working in bakery, on the other hand, has her share of problems, and after a day returns the child to Mulla in the colony. With nothing else to do Mulla and his men plans to rear the child. Lalchi, who is a bold, smart and outgoing girl, becomes a regular visitor to the dreaded colony to take care of the child which gradually paves way for a romance with Mulla. He tries ways to readapt himself to the new life but destiny had different designs, already set for them.
The scriptwriter seems to have followed the Balu Mahendra's classic 'Yathra' or its Hindi version 'Milan' in the narrative style and the film even showcases some shades of 'Dhalapathy'. The problem with the movie is that after establishing the premises, whose majority is shot on the moving train, the later half falls too predicable, even though not clichéd. The film would have come in for less criticism, had it been from a less accomplished director. Lal also seems to have failed to utilize the desired elements of the plot points to race into a riveting climax, which stands inadequate for the work that he has done in the build ups to the story.
The highlight of the film is the excellent camera work by Vipin Mohan, who has beautifully covered the entire proceedings, a work that will match the best of his career. And that is the case with the art director Gokuldas who has taken pains to display the best from his team, creating the sets of the colony. . What saves this film is the cast that has given noteworthy performances. Dileep is good as Mulla, though not extraordinary. But the decision to keep him with very limited dialogues definitely did backfired, as the actor without much easy talking had always been less effective. Meera Nandhan as Lalchi proves herself in her first outing and is the surprise packages who carry the film in her tender shoulders. Biju Menon, with his towering personality and evocative eyes, looks every part the enigmatic ring leader. Anoop Chandran, Reena Basheer, Suraj Venjaramoodu and Salim Kumar, excel in the supporting roles with well timed comedies while Saiju Kurup takes a mature look as C.I. Bharathan. Bhavana too makes an appearance in a wasted and overly done cameo.