A few days ago we saw Babu Raj stealing the show in Salt N' Pepper. In Manushya Mrugam he is writer, director and lead actor with Prithviraj and Kalabhavan Mani appearing in supporting roles.
The story is about sexual exploitation of young girls. Babu Raj plays lorry driver Johnny, who is accused of two rapes (one being his own minor daughter) and three murders, which includes his own wife Lissy (Kiran). He has pleaded guilty on all charges and is naturally vilified by the public but maintains a stoic silence. In jail, he is brutally abused by other inmates for his heinous crimes and suffers all quietly.
Crime Branch officer David (Prithviraj) however does not believe that the story is true and begins his own investigation. Slowly, the real story begins to come to light.
Babu Raj is convincing as both the mute accused and the lecherous bad guy in the
flashback. But as a writer trying to tell a story with multiple points of view (as is the trend these days), he leaves much to be desired. The yarn he spins is not tightly narrated and so the actors shoulder all the responsibility to make the film work.
Prithviraj and Kalabhavan Mani (as the local police officer) do their bit. Jagathy Sreekumar as the local priest has a serious role and does it well. The comedy is left to Indrans as the sexton. Kullapulli Leela plays Johnny's distant aunt.
The roles of the three leading ladies, who are pivotal to the story, allow them to show off their physical attributes as well as their histrionic ability. Kiran plays the role of Johnny's mismatched wife Lissy well. Oviya is Sophie who becomes the object of Johnny's desire, and Aiswarya runs the local liquor shop.
Manushya Mrugam manages to stay afloat due to the presence of Prithviraj. And Babu Raj's handling of the story does not let it descend into cheapness.