: The sudden implementation of demonetisation rattles the country, and a few black money hoarders in Kerala are trying their best to save their void currencies by hook or crook. Kasaragod-based financier Nithyananda Shenoy also gets embroiled in it, and drawn into the scene are also a few underprivileged folk in Kochi. Dramatic situations surrounding the hotchpotch ensue, as each one tries to set their lives straight.
: Tales of golden-hearted mobsters, who are much feared in their circuit but compassionate to the needy and in turn loved by them, make for some good old popcorn entertainment cinema. When you give the tale the backdrop of a pressing issue of society and also include dialogues on a handful of other common matters of concern, it becomes a wholesome story - on paper. At least from the looks of it, this is what the Ranjith – Mammootty team wanted their film Puthan Panam to be like.
Chathikku Chathiyalla, Chaavu (The revenge for deception is death) … is the policy of Nithyananda Shenoy (Mammootty), a veteran underworld figure in Northern Kerala. When an ex-minister swindles him on the day of demonetisation, Shenoy plays a few usual games from his book, only to find himself in the midst of an unintended situation. The life of Muthuvel (Swaraj Gramika), a smartass eighth grader and his mom, Sundari (Ineya) also becomes involved in the episode soon after. Puthan Panam shows how each of them help themselves to squeeze out of the causatum.
Like in many of the recent Mammootty films, this too is a role constructed to win back the actor's numero uno position banking on his megastar appeal and evergreen, classy looks. He brings to Puthan Panam his usual screen presence and at certain points, the ‘larger-than-life’ portrayals are working only as it’s Mammootty. That said, the film is a decently cooked masala story. As opposed to how the female lead’s role would be spun in such films, Ineya has a solid character with the scope for some decent performance and she delivers too. The child actor Swaraj Gramika, who plays a pivotal character named Muthuvel, is also a quality discovery by the crew. The movie’s first half is well-paced, with some crackling performance from the main actors and it draws you in.
As for where the film falters, though it starts off as a film about black money issue, it strays, in no time. Mammootty is an expert at handling slangs, yes, but for viewers, it can be tough to decipher what the Kasaragod gang in the film, including the megastar, is trying to communicate. To a big extent, the reason for which a man of Nithyananda Shenoy’s stature chases after a kid – that too through the kind of antics lined up in the film - is not believable enough and are even a bit silly, at times. For a section of viewers, it is also possible to feel that the film’s moral compass is off, when it shows how school-going kids use certain weapons.
If you go expecting to watch a wholesome film on the black money issue, you might not get your money's worth from this flick. But if all that you care about is to stay entertained through the length of the film, it is worth your ‘Puthan Panam’.