Madanolsavam Movie Review: Witty political satire with a short-lasting impact

Madanolsavam Movie Review: Witty political satire with a short-lasting impact

Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval's trademark humour strongly makes its presence known in several places, even though the film's overall impact doesn't match up to that of his directorial work
Rating:(3.5 / 5)

At a crucial point in Madanolsavam, Madanan Mallakkara (Suraj Venjaramoodu), the protagonist of the film is asked by a party member if he knows what he is talking about when he negotiates for a large sum of money in return for being a dummy candidate. Madanolsavam is essentially a political satire, but first and foremost, it's about the evolution of a once-insignificant man who realises his true worth and decides to take advantage of the same system that once did him.

The funniest situation in Madanolsavam has nothing to do with the political context. It's a situation where an aged woman's weak bowel moments result in a severe fatality and how it is used against her when she opposes a man-woman union, also caused by the previous situation. Only Ratheesh could imagine a scenario like that and make it seem funny. When the film gets into the subject of proxy candidates being used to manipulating elections, it doesn't take any particular political party's side. It eyes both with a critical lens, given how both sides indulge in ridiculous shenanigans to further their goal, with Suraj's Madanan as their pawn. The film gets more interesting when a namboothiri quotation duo, played by Rajesh Madhavan and Renji Kankol, gets involved, turning the entire situation into a Ramji Rao-style caper.

Director: Sudheesh Gopinath

Cast: Suraj Venjaramoodu, Babu Antony, Bhama Arun, Rajesh Madhavan

Babu Antony, playing a right-wing dude, also named Madanan, but with a different surname 'Manjakkaran', gets to exercise his comedic chops in a performance that plays out like a saffronised version of Bobby Chemmanur, complete with an eager-to-please PR team that charges a hefty sum to embellish his brand. The actor, typically associated with action movies for ages, demonstrates impressive restraint with a performance that gets suitably loud in a few places and quiet in others. Most often, the actor's deadpan dialogue delivery of certain lines, sometimes accompanied by a mischievous grin, does the trick.

And then, of course, there's Suraj Venjaramoodu essaying a part worthy of him after a long time -- a vulnerable character that, after getting suddenly thrust into situations beyond his control, navigates a turbulent landscape fraught with kidnappings, betrayal, and other unforeseen developments. Madanolsavam employs Suraj's ability to oscillate between comedy (not bordering on slapstick) and serious (not bordering on melodrama) elements. The actor rises to the occasion with his body language marked by jittery mannerisms, awkward pauses, and much confusion.

I particularly liked his chemistry with Bhama Arun, who plays Alice, a woman with an astonishing capacity for adapting to any situation hurled at her. And a special mention to the lady who plays Suraj's aunt. I don't know her name, but I expect to see her in more movies soon, hopefully not repeating what she did in Madanolsavam.

The film sees the return of the unparalleled comical talent of writer-director Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval, who has, this time, entrusted his work to a debutant, Sudheesh Gopinath. So it goes without saying that if you go in expecting a Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval film, I have to say that it is and isn't. What am I implying? While it isn't a badly directed film, we wish that Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval had directed the whole thing himself. But then, given that it's a different person in the director's chair, it wouldn't be fair to expect one to emulate another.

In the past, we have seen well-established filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola and Oliver Stone writing scripts for other filmmakers. In such cases, the filmmaking style will never be that of the writer. But fret not, because Ratheesh's trademark humour strongly makes its presence known in several places, even though the film's overall impact doesn't match up to his directorial work.

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