One of the secrets of a successful thriller is getting the audience engrossed in the plot and then springing a surprise when it is least expected.
Director M A Nishad tries this in his new film No.66 Madhura Bus which is in the exciting format of a road movie.
Unfortunately it comes through as a typical revenge saga that throws up no surprises despite having a couple of accomplished performers in the form of Pashupathy and Makrand Deshpande.
Two childhood friends Varadan (Pashupathy) and Sanjayan (Makrand Deshpande) are employed as forest officers by the self-styled king of the place, played by Thilakan.
They have a common object of affection in Bhavayami (Mallika) who is employed as a domestic help in Thilakan's household. It is easy to foresee that Varadan the righteous
eventually becomes a forest guard while Sanjayan chooses a life of crime, cultivating ganja, brewing illicit liquor etc. Bhavayami becomes a bone of contention between the two, though she marries Varadan.
Scriptwriter K V Anil starts on a promising note. The story goes into flashback of a long bus ride like the one in the Balu Mahendra classic Yathra (1985).
The director depends on the histrionic abilities of his actors to pull his half-baked story through and the result shows in the work of the over-burdened artists.
Pashupathy works very hard to repeat his restrained Vairam act and Makrand Deshpande has to give a somewhat exaggerated performance as the ganja-smoking and womanising rogue. Jagathy Sreekumar repeats his Happy Journey act as the conductor of the bus fond of talking on his cell phone with his wife.
On the whole, No. 66 Madhura Bus turns out to be a disappointment considering that it had promising actors and a director with a good reputation and track record.