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Madhuchandralekha: Saved by Urvashi

March 27, 2006 18:18 IST

A still from MadhuchandralekhaThe Malayalam film world appears to be obsessed with the past. We see everyone talking of bringing back the glory of the good old days, trying formulae and combinations that were successful a decade or two ago. The trend continues with Madhuchandralekha, which brings together the hit pair of yesteryear, Jayaram and Urvashi, under the directorial baton of Rajasenan, known for his family entertainers.

The pull of nostalgia was palpable from the beginning, of course, but the million dollar question is: has it satisfied audiences? It will be fair to say that you come out of the movie hall with mixed feelings. Madhuchandralekha has its moments, but they somehow do not fit in with the whole. It depends on Urvashi's antics, without her getting any support in the form of a story or characterisation.

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The premise of the film is well-publicised and predictable. Madhu aka Madhavan (Jayaram) is a successful playback singer. Chandramathi (Urvashi) is his illiterate, rustic, betel-chewing wife. They have four children. It can be described as an incompatible but happy marriage. Madhu loves his wife, even though they are out-of-synch, because it is she who brings him luck. Enter Lekha (Mamta Mohandas), a sophisticated, urban model-cum-singer, who finds a place in the hearts of the family members.

Chandramathi thinks Lekha will be the perfect wife for her husband and a good mother for her children. How she goes about uniting Madhu and Lekha forms the rest of the story.

The humour that is supposed to be the thread holding the film together is inconsistent. It keeps swinging from being good to being sub-standard. The pacing in the first half hour is good, with Kalsala Babu playing the narrator. Then, the downslide begins. The culprit here is the screenplay by Raghunath Paleri that overly depends on humour that feels forced. It may have helped if a little thought was spared for the characters.

This film solely belongs to Urvashi. If Madhuchandralekha manages to reap a rich harvest at the box-office, it will only be because of her. She shines throughout, despite having to deal with mediocre stuff. Though her characterisation leaves us unsatisfied, it is nowhere near her realistic characters of the past or even her recent comeback film Achuvinte Amma. This character is outlandish, and requires her to go overboard most of the time. Still, it is her presence that makes this watchable.

Jayaram looks pale in her presence. The script offers him nothing. He is reduced to being a prop to Urvashi in a few scenes. He tries hard to display his histrionic abilities in the second half, where he doesn't have to compete with Urvashi. But they are few and far between. Mamta Mohandas as Lekha passes muster.

Considering this is the story of a playback singer, one would expect the songs to be of some importance. But the songs, composed by M Jayachandran, are just used as fillers to fill in narrative gaps.

In the end, how one wishes filmmakers of Rajasenan's calibre would try something radically new, instead of reworking old combinations to find elusive success.

Rediff Rating:

Paresh C Palicha