Paresh C Palich feels Venicile Vyapari is pretty run-of-the-mill
What happens when a film is inspired by the title? You have to weave a story around it and make it convincing as well as entertaining. These are the thoughts running in one's mind when one ventures into a theatre to watch Venicile Vyapari, megastar Mammootty's Christmas release directed by Shafi and scripted by James Albert.
It is well known that the title is inspired by Shakespeare's famous play The Merchant of Venice and was suggested by Salim Kumar, the National Award winning actor. So, what the team behind this movie does is they base the story in Alappuzha district, known as the Venice of the East. The other novelty in the story is that it is set in the 1980s to give it a retro feel.
There's not much to the plot of the film. It is a typical Mammootty film where we see him in a different get-up, handling a few comic scenes and a few action scenes, with a stock supporting cast.
It all happens in 1980 in Alappuzha when the coir industry was at its peak and the cooperative movement was gaining ground.
Pavithran (Mammootty), a lowly constable in the Kerala [ Images ] Police lands up in Alappuzha disguised as a merchant to investigate the murder of a union leader named Ajayan (Biju Menon) who was at the forefront of establishing the workers' cooperative.
There are two feudal traders, father (Vijayaragavan) and son (Suresh Krishna) and at the other end is the character played by Sreeraman who is believed to be behind the death of Ajayan.
Once Pavithran lands here, he meets a stock of interesting characters. Initially, we are awed by the retro feel of the film, the credit for which should go to the art director, Joseph Nellickal.
Slowly the story by James Albert takes centre stage. But the problem is that he does not have anything new or unpredictable to offer. We can discern various plot points borrowed from other films--Vietnam Colony or Mammootty's superhit Rajamanikyam.
The casting of this film was the talk of the town as Kavya Madhavan [ Images ] was playing the female lead against Mammootty for the first time in her adult life. She plays Ammu, the sister of Ajayan and herself a firebrand leader of the working class. She seems to be entirely wasted in this film.
Among the supporting cast is the mandatory presence of Jagathi Sreekumar, Salim Kumar and Suraj Venjaramudu (whose antics are becoming more unbearable by the day).
As for Mammootty himself, he appears in a police constable's costume of the eighties, wearing knee-length shorts and a pointed headgear (but surprisingly the police constables appearing in the later part of the film are shown wearing contemporary uniforms). He is even shown wearing bell bottoms and long collared shirts in a song sequence! The variety in his performance ends here.
Venicile Vyapari was supposed to be superstar Mammootty 's gift to his fans for the festive season. But it's just not entertaining enough.