'Mandakini' Movie Review: A slow starter powered by the mass performance of female stars

Anarkali and Althaf Salim play lead roles in 'Mandakini'. Photo | Imdb

After the award-winning 'Thinkalazhcha Nishchayam', films with marriages as a leitmotif are no longer hard to come by. Vinod Leela's 'Mandakini', starring Althaf Salim and Anarkali Marikar, is also centred on a marriage.The film begins with Aromal, the bridegroom, sharing a 'small' concern with the god on the day of his wedding. This monologue sets the tone of the comedy film, scripted by Shiju Bhaskar and Shalu. 
Althaf Salim of 'Pachuvum Athbuthavilakkum' fame gets his first lead role in the movie. Aromal is raised by his single mom Rajalakshmi, who owns a driving school. His newlywed wife, Ambili, was a student at Rajalakshmi's driving school. The film follows what happens on the night of the wedding. 
The first half focuses mostly on the wedding night, where the bridegroom's family is seen indulging in too much alcohol and some fun banter. Though the humour works in bits and parts, there is a lag in the narrative initially, which is spent mostly on establishing the mood of the wedding night. 

However, the twist at the interval and the humour in the second half add more colour to the film, adding pace to the storytelling. Althaf does a good job playing Aromal, though it feels like an extension of his character roles. Anarkali Marikar and Ganapathi Poduval deliver excellent performances. The banter between Vineeth Thattil David and Kutty Akhil is the highlight of the film. Actor Saritha Kukku, who was part of films like 'Bharatha Circus' and 'Aabhaasam', puts up a brilliant performance as Aromal's mother. She gets some mass moments that can give even some heroes a run for their money.
Malayalam cinema has seen the absence of prominent female characters in recent hits, but 'Mandakini', without much theatrics or drama, ensures women get some deserving space onscreen. The film, though infused with humour, also addresses the complexities that arise in marriages if one is unable to be transparent with their partner.
The songs composed by Bibin Ashok blend soothingly well with the storyline, which leaves you with a smile at the end.

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