One look at the audience awaiting the first visuals of Blessy’s Kalimannu and it is difficult not to try to deduce their reasons for making it to the show. The majority probably wants to know what about the movie stirred up the hornet’s nest much before its release. A handful of staunch Blessy fans may be hoping for a recreation of his magic in Pranayam and Thanmathra. Then, there is the third party willing the movie to play out the ticket’s worth.
On all counts, Kalimannu is a lost cause.
Meera (Shwetha Menon), a former bar dancer, crusades for the right to harvest her brain-dead husband’s (Biju Menon) sperm to conceive through in-vitro fertilisation. Her divorcee neighbour Sophie (Suhasini) supports her fight and protects Meera from the media, portrayed as ‘vultures’ with an iron-fist and dogmas of morality. No points for guessing that Meera goes on to deliver a healthy baby (the much criticised real-time delivery scene plays out beautifully), fans of happy endings that we are.
A storyline, documentary-like in spirit, would have made a statement on the purity of motherhood if the film was an hour-long affair. Instead, its noble intentions are lost among three ‘item’ songs in the first half. Agreed Shwetha Menon is gritty but in all politeness, the numbers are tasteless.
Add to it the return to biology lessons when Sophie, a pisciculturist, tries to help Meera understand the nuances of fertilisation through her breeding fish. An effort to use parallels in cinema is worthy of praise but the fish-and-eggs routine goes overboard. In all, the scenes that one wants to be left with, especially of the delivery and the mother-child intimacy, are over in the blink of an eye.
Biju Menon makes his stay in the film matter while Shwetha Menon breezes through her character, with nothing much to add to it. One is glad to have Suhasini back on screen.
Kalimannu’s saving grace is M Jayachadran’s music and O N V Kurup’s lyrics. Lalee, rendered by Mridula Warrier (Idea Star Singer fame) is the only takeaway from the film. And after the last scene, if you are wondering what the name had to do with it all, be assured you are not the only one.
Verdict - Give the theatre a miss. Watch it on TV on New Years’ or Onam.
CAST: Shwetha Menon, Biju Menon, Suhasini Maniratnam