Mamta Mohandas' Lalbagh review: The city of love, sins and justice

Lalbagh Movie poster
Prashant Murali Padmanabhan's second outing, Lalbagh, starring Mamta in the lead, apart from deliberating a serious topic, treads the fine line of a poignant story. Movie Poster

Women-centric films in Malayalam, though few, have seldom failed to strike a chord with the audience. Prashant Murali Padmanabhan's second outing, Lalbagh, produced by Raj Zakarias and starring Mamta in the lead, apart from deliberating a serious topic, treads the fine line of a poignant story.

Unlike his previous flick, 'Paisa Paisa', which spotlights individuals pitted against situations they have no control over, Lalbagh unveils the stark realities people love to reject until they are part of it.

The story climbs the track a bit slowly. But once you begin the ride it absorbs you completely, and, like his previous movie, catches the steam after the interval. It's not a conventional crime-investigation thriller but a different and realistic take on human relationship psychology.

Sara (Mamta Mohandas) is a nurse, living with her husband Tom (Sijoy Varghese) and daughter Angel in Bengaluru. A woman who is obsessed with her family and the fear of unwarranted disturbance to that pleasant life ends up a devastated lot when she discovers her husband dead one morning after a partying night. ACP Hegde (Rahul Dev Shetty), driven by his investigative insights suspects it to be a murder and launches the police probe into the incident.

In his bid to join the loose ends he questions all those who he suspects to play foil to Tom, including Tharun (Rahul madhav), Venkidesh (Ajit Koshy), Priya, (Nandini Rai), Naveen (Sudeep karakkat), who were Tom and Sara's family friends or colleagues, and even Dr. Devarajin (VK Prakash) who had treated Sara for bi-polar disorder.

Mamta Mohandas has justified the space and the character to the core. Her understanding of the story, the pace and the nuances have weaved an immaculate display of emotions. Sijoy Verghese, Rahul Madhav, Rahul Shetty, Neha Saxena and all the other artists have excelled.

Dealing with a topic that underlines the foibles of modern and urban middle-class families in a tech city, Prashant unabashedly uncovers the sins and the follies that invisible 'personality disorders' in most people trigger.

The treatment is ruthless and provides no succour, justice, a moral or logical conclusion to the characters and the plot.

So, husbands, let your wives watch this movie at your own risk.

The tale is deeply ingrained in the city of Bengaluru, with even a lot of dialogues in Kannada and would resonate with the Malayali world rooted in the city. But it has a universal appeal and deals with a burning subject that is gnawing the family fabric of the gadget-driven neo-modern era. The coherent script and well-crafted suspense leave the movie thoroughly engaging.

Narrating a fresh tale, the movie unfolds silently without the trappings or the bustle of a usual crime thriller. The background score and the exceedingly melodious songs by Rahul Raj and the cinematography by Antony Jo enhance the aesthetics.

A concealed bit of humour element might strike you only much later.

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