Velipadinte Pustakam: Mohanlal saves this mediocre attempt
Despite the Lal Jose-Mohanlal combo, this film ends up being an average fare with a predictable and uninteresting plot
In Velipadinte Pusthakam, there is a scene where producer-actor Vijay Babu (playing himself) says that every movie has a unique selling proposition (USP). In the case of Velipadinte Pustakam, the USP was the Lal Jose-Mohanlal combo, and that, too, for the first time. This was one claim that inspired hordes of fans to root for the movie, besides the evergreen factor called Mohanlal. However, Velipadinte Pustakam ends up being an average fare. With a predictable and uninteresting plot and an even absurd plot twist, the film douses our expectation of an Onam celluloid firework.
Cast: Mohanlal, Sarath, Anna Reshma Rajan
Director: Lal Jose
That said, it does give Mohanlal a new avatar, a character, which probably, has never appeared in his filmography before. That little hinge manages to save this movie, and of course, Mohanlal's charm helps.
Velipadinte Pustakam opens with an action sequence (poorly choreographed) that shows Viswan (Anoop Menon) beaten to death for helping realise the dream of a college in the coastal area. The scene then shifts to the college where two student gangs led by Franklin (Sarath) and Sameer (Arun Kurian) engage in petty fights every day. But, things take a positive turn with the arrival of the new vice-principal Prof Micheal Idicula (Mohanlal). Within no time, Prof Idicula is everybody's favourite. He then proposes building a college hostel. What happens next forms the crux of the story.
In fact, Velipadinte Pusthakam begins on a great note. It gives us the Mohanlal we love, the same old charming man whose subtle expressions made us worship him. His portrayal of Prof Idicula is 'quintessentially Mohanlal'. With his friendly banter, the ease with which he wins the hearts of rebellious students and his passion for a cause, Mohanlal breathes life into Prof Idicula effortlessly. Had the script been solid, Velipadinte Pusthakam would have given the viewer an excellent cinematic experience.
Instead, post-interval, what we encounter is an illogical attempt at drama, or better, melodrama. It is a downward spiral from then on, quite unexpected from Benny P Nayarambalam, known for his otherwise great oeuvre. The predictability and superficiality of events and characters spoil whatever fizz was left, leaving one to wonder whether it was indeed Lal Jose who made the movie.
While Sarath and Arun Kurian perform their parts to perfection, it is Salim Kumar who is wasted in a character written in poor taste. While we are delighted to see him back to being his comic self, we only wish his lines were better. As for Anna Reshma Rajan, she has nothing solid here to build on.
But, then Velipadinte Pustakam isn't entirely a worthless attempt. It definitely has its share of moments. It has enough life to let you sit through it. But, then, one has to be forgiven for harbouring great expectations because this was supposed to mark the association of two great talents, Mohanlal and Lal Jose.