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Times of India
A thoroughly pampered 13-year-old girl from a border village in Kerala is forced by her own infertile elder sister to marry her husband, to keep the man loyal to the family. However, destiny kicks in with new challenges.
The event chosen by Vinod Mankara to make a film definitely had the potential to showcase a heartrending story. Ottamandaram is based on the tale of a little girl from Andhra Pradesh who becomes a mother and widow at a tender age. The director shifts the story space from Andhra to a border village in Kerala, probably to justify the many archaic elements in the story.
Kala is a vibrant teenager and excellent student. Her family consists of grandparents, elder sister and a loving brother-in-law who considers her his own daughter. A negative transformation comes over him upon realising that his wife is infertile and he decides to marry someone else. As he is the only earning member of the family, Kala's sister Neela forces the little girl to be his second wife.
It's the story of a 14-year-old-mother and Bhama plays her well, though her makeup isn't convincing in many sequences. The first half of the film is engaging, but the second has a slackened pace. There is little in terms of good dialogue and the overall structure of the film disappoints. After a promising first scene involving Nedumudi Venu and another with him and Shankar Ramakrishnan, one wonders where they disappear.
Moreover, the film ends abruptly as if all it wanted to show was a teenaged mother impregnated by her brother-in-law. There are also numerous senselessly prolonged scenes, for instance, a shaving sequence and those instances where the actresses are made to wail to the extent of getting on to one's nerves. Overall, the film is sadly reduced to an average attempt, which can probably impress the fans of soap operas.