Mammootty Is Back With A Bang In 2019

It has been almost four decades since Mammootty made his big screen debut with ‘Mela’, and the mania surrounding the Malayalam megastar refuses to fade away. A three-time National award winner, ‘Mammooka’ has over the years established himself as a synonym for brilliance courtesy of his grand personality, engaging dialogue delivery and above all tremendous versatility as a performer.

Who else do we know can pull off a role like Bhaskara Pattelar, the scintillating feudal lord, flawlessly rendering a South Kannada twang to his Malayalam. His eyes turn dark with mindless lust for women and derision for those who serve him; a role that requires us to despise him.

Alternatively, a role that’s quite the reversal in Ponthan Mada, where Mammootty plays the servant, the titular character, in a movie that explores the relationship with him and his colonial landlord.

Who else do we know can essay two shades of what an elder brother can be in “Valsalyam”, and “Valliyettan”?

Who else can play so many historical characters, be it Ambedkar, Pazhassi Raja, Chandu and so many more!

Who else do we know can share the screen with the charismatic Rajnikanth and still be considered as one of the heroes of the movie?

Let’s not even get started on all the nuances he brings with his voice modulation, accent and body language to so many characters; so much that when you look at the career of Mammooty, “the actor” (not the star), no two roles are the same.

Even though his movies in the past couple of years had nothing exceptional about them with roles that pose no challenge to him, in 2019, it seems like he’s silently creating a niche by seemingly being all over the place. We’re only halfway through the year, yet we’ve already seen him thrice on the big screen. First as a father coming to grips with the reality of raising a daughter with cerebral palsy, then in a biopic, playing one of the most charismatic leaders in South India, and finally an out and out mass entertainer in Madhura Raja. Also, of course, let’s not forget his pan-Indian appeal as each of these movies was in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam, respectively.

On the day of his latest release, “Unda”, which is his fourth movie this year; let us delve into Mammootty’s 2019.

Peranbu (Tamil)

Summary: Due to circumstances, a father is forced to reunite with his spastic daughter who barely knew about his existence until then. The movie explores their lives and how their relationship builds and evolves, and the people that come into their lives.

A movie that kept us on our toes with the fantastic reviews and several standing ovations received in the award circuit; it was almost cathartic when I finally managed to watch the movie.

Peranbu is never a Mammootty film. Peranbu was entirely Ram’s product; where he gave ample scope and space for Mammootty and all the other actors to perform. Ram managed to execute an excellently written, well-directed movie.

For anyone who has seen Mammootty at his best knows that the level of performance in this is nothing he has not done before. However, kudos to the actor for underplaying through most of the movie. It’s nice to see a legendary actor such as himself performing with passion.

Yathra – YSR (Telugu)

Summary: Yathra is a film based on padayatra (walkathon) in the life of Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, ex-Chief Minister of the undivided state of Andhra Pradesh. The film shows how that single event where he walked thousands of miles across the state, interacting with people from close quarters had transformed him from a powerful leader into a people leader.

Even though I found the movie to be underwhelming, where it treads the line between being a propaganda piece and a political thriller, one cannot deny the effect it had on the people of AP.

With the acceptance and appreciation he received for essaying the role, it’s clear that choosing Mammootty to step into the shoes of YSR was a bold choice and a successful one as well. He brought his charisma and experience to the role. Mammootty chose not to imitate YSR, and it has worked in his favour.

Madhura Raja (Malayalam)

Summary: When an illegal hooch baron’s reign of terror troubles an entire village, the people turn to philanthropic, flamboyant don with a heart of gold: Raja.

Almost a decade since Pokkiri Raja‘s hero Madhura Raja, in the person of Mammootty, strides across the big screen mouthing his signature refrain.

For someone who is not a fan of the Pokkiri Raja or Vyshak+UdayaKrishna+Sibi movies in general, it was Mammootty who made me board the hype train. With a script that tries and fails at half baked political commentary or a story that had nothing new to offer on the table, what made the movie enjoyable was everyone involved knew the kind of movie they were in and gave it all.

Vysakh, who is known as Malayalam’s own Rohit Shetty, knows a thing or two about directing such mass entertainers and he manages to elevate the movie with his execution even when the writing wavers. Mammookka, who will celebrate his 68th birthday this year (WHAT!) excels at the action sequences as well. They certainly looked more convincing in Madhura Raja than 2017’s Masterpiece. Peter Hein’s work which looked shoddy in Odiyan looks better here too. It just shows that Vysakh’s association with both of them helps. The sequences involving a pack of ferocious canines are so well conceptualised, so slickly shot and edited, that no one would guess Mollywood works with a fraction of the budget available to the average Hollywood film. The dogs are hungry for human flesh, and Vysakh mines their ravenousness to terrifying effect.

However, it’s Mammooty who towers over it all and decides to perform for the fans. Madhuraja delivers everything it promised. It had abundant over-the-top action choreography by Peter Hein, the Mammootty in an almost imposing, larger-than-life avatar, his comedy, and a song performance by Sunny Leone. Also, expect the sequel announcement anytime now.

After Unda, two more Mammootty projects are scheduled for release this year. Let’s dive into those.

Pathinettam Padi (Malayalam)

PathinettamPadi is the directorial debut of scriptwriter/actor Shankar Ramakrishnan and produced by Santosh Sivan, Arya and Shaji Nadesan under the banner of August Cinema. It has been in the news for its unique making and storyline – be it training camp by Thai action choreographer KechaKhamphakdee or the acting camp by eminent directors and scriptwriters for its cast. An image depicting Mammootty’s look in the movie created quite the buzz.

Mammootty would play the role John Abraham Palackal, a prolific professor from Stanford University, who is a successor of Palackal family from central Travancore.

Mamangam (Malayalam)

Made on a budget of Rs 50 crore, Mamangam is a historical drama based on medieval Mamankam festival celebrated during the 18th century on the banks of the Bharathappuzha, where warriors known as chaaverukal ploted against the Zamorin rulers to overthrow them. The movie had a problematic production and has been in the news consistently as it began its production with debut director Sajeev Pillai wielding the megaphone. However, due to creative differences with the producer, noted filmmaker Padma Kumar has now replaced Sajeev.

However, all the naysayers, including myself, were shut down when the first look of the movie was released last week. Now the movie has moved on to final schedule of production and is expected to be released later this year. Here’s hoping that it is a visual treat and a landmark in Malayalam Cinema and Mammooty’s illustrious filmography as well.

Shahbaz M
I see movies, I talk about it.

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