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Times of India
The film revolves around the lives of two people who meet in train and how the journey changes the course of their lives.
Padmakumar's Kanal is a revenge drama, made in the form of a racy thriller, which achieves its goal to a certain extent. Like several Malayalam films in the recent years, Kanal too showcases the lives of Gulf Malayalis in parts. There is a build-up of intrigue at the beginning with recession setting in many Gulf regions.
Several Malayali families - who had amassed wealth after years of hard work - have been reduced to poverty. They resort to any means to make ends meet. In a parallel course, a tipsy Mohanlal entertains co-passengers on a long distance train and befriends a grumpy Anoop Menon. Later, it turns out that the lives of all these strangers are interconnected and a gruesome past emerges.
Mohanlal slips so easily into his role that you almost see a touch of the 'old Mohanlal'. He not only looks good, but play a smooth criminal and revels in his villainous shades.
The film belongs entirely to Mohanlal and Anoop Menon and the actresses just appear and leave. Anoop Menon shows a hitherto unseen side of the actor in him, and has a few intense and emotional scenes. He handles them well.
Vinod Illampally's camerawork is brilliant - some spectacular aerial visuals of trains crossing bridges are top notch. However, there is a lack of finesse throughout the film; the blaring background music a major let down.
The dialogues in English are so terrible that 'passionate moments' become a farce; a tacky item dance sequence is another minus point. The storyline leaves many questions unanswered. Kanal won't disappoint you if you expect nothing more than a masala entertainer.