The first impression you get while watching Vadakkumnathan is that you are revisiting the golden period of Mohanlal's career where he played scholastic roles with natural ease, the way only he can. So, you sit expectantly throughout, only to find that nothing of substance comes out of it until the end.
Directed by Shajoon Kariyal, this film lay in the cans for quite a while. It also has the distinction of marking lyricist Gireesh Puthencherry's debut as a writer and being the last film of the late Raveendran as music director.
The film belongs to Mohanlal and Raveendran. It is Mohanlal's performance that holds Vadakkumnathan together. The music was a rage when it was released more than a year ago. Hopefully, its popularity will revive with the film's release.
Bharath Pisharody (Mohanlal) is a Vedanta scholar who has authored numerous books on the subject and teaches in the prestigious Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady. The character has stereotypical eccentricities that are misinterpreted. He mysteriously disappears on his wedding day and is presumed dead, but is found and brought back from Haridwar five years later by his family. The mystery behind Pisharody's disappearance is the pivot on which the story is built.
There was nothing untoward in the scholar's life. Even his marriage was to be with his cousin and childhood sweetheart Meera (Padmapriya). Why, then, did he run away? The flaw lies in the writing.
It is Mohanlal's performance that makes this film at least watchable, but his performance does have its disadvantages. Coming close on the heels of Thanmatra, there are bound to be comparisons between the two and the latter may win hands down on the basis of characterization.
Padmapriya has pleasing screen presence, but her role is not well defined. Her name is symbolic of her devotional love, but, in this day and age, it seems far-fetched. Music by the late Raveendran is momentous, but the same cannot be said about the way the tracks have been filmed.
It would have been a good attempt if director Shajoon Kariyal had adopted a realistic approach instead of trying to pacify the star's fans in the end.