A lazy, irresponsible man, who quits his job because his wife earns more than him, decides to adopt an old woman as his mother because she offers to pay cash for it. What happens after the woman enters his household?
First things first. If you are the mega-serial-loving type, there is a good chance that you will dig Palakkattu Madhavan. If you are not, then, this is not the film for you. If Santhanam has taken the K Bhagyaraj route to find acclaim as a hero, here, we have Vivekh in a film that is titled after the popular character played by Bhagyaraj (don't ask what the fact that Madhavan is from Palakkad adds to the script) but plays out like something that could have been written by Visu with R Pandiarajan in the lead. If the husband who is irresponsible and jobless reminds you of Kudumbam Oru Kadhambam, an elderly mother abandoned by her children feels straight out of Varavu Nalla Uravu. And the character of Madhavan, a well-meaning guy who often gets into problems, is the kind of character that Pandiarajan played in the 1980s and 90s. At least, this is the kind of movie that Chandramohan seems to be after with Palakkattu Madhavan.
But sadly, the writing is sloppy, the comedy too broad and loud and the filmmaking stodgy that the film doesn't make good on its premise. The entire first half is wasted with redundant scenes that try to tell us what a lazy person Madhavan is. We see him resigning from his job in the first few minutes and from then on, scene after scene shows him trying to get into a job that is the easiest but pays a lot. These are intended to be funny but they are so long-drawn-out that most of the jokes that Vivekh tries to tell fall flat and lack punch. We cringe at seeing this intelligent comedian being forced to act like a desperate joker.
Thankfully, the second half works better (at least, the film doesn't become another Eli) after the actual plot — Madhavan adopting Pattu Maami (Sheela, energetic and game for everything) and his trials after that — kicks in, making us wonder how much better the film might have been if only the director had cut short the shenanigans of Madhavan and introduced this character earlier. There is not much new here and the arc this story travels is very familiar — Madhavan bending backwards to please Pattu Maami soley for money, the old lady's haughty behaviour which ticks off his wife Lakshmi (Sonia Agarwal, somewhat weary), the relationship between Madhavan and Lakshmi coming under strain because of this, Pattu Maami leaving the house, the couple realizing her worth and the final get-together. Still, there is genuine spark in the scenes between Sheela and Vivekh, who form a fine tag team, and this liveliness keeps us watching.
But Chandramohan doesn't let these characters become flesh-and-blood people and instead continues to treat them as caricatures. There is also no consistency in the behaviour of these characters that doesn't let us care for them as much as we should. We never relate to Madhavan because he keeps turning into actor Vivekh with unnecessary breaking-the-fourth-wall dialogues in the name of comedy. When a song is about to break out, he says, "Pala latcham potu edutha paatu vara pogudhu; endhirichu bathroom-ku poyiraadheenga." Instead of laughing, we only become acutely aware of the lack of fresh ideas in the script.