"Mamangam mein bhaag lene ke liye agar ek bhi yodha Vaalluv rajya se jaa raha hai toh woh yaha woh yaha ki auraton ke badle ki aag ki wajah se," says a character in Mammootty's period action, 'Mamangam'. Quite early in the film, we get a proof of this when an elderly lady during a village meet emphasises on how the mothers from Valluvanadu shouldn't step back from letting their sons suffer a heroic death while clashing with the Zamorins during the Mamangam festival.
What's Yay: Performances, action sequences.
What's Nay: Length of the film, screenplay dips a bit.
Popcorn Refill: Interval.
Iconic Moment: Master Achuthan's fight sequence in the climax.
Set against the backdrop of the Mamangam Mahotsavam which was prevalent during the 17th and 18th century, in Thirunavaya on the banks of river Bharathapuzha, the film begins with a narration, explaining the history of the festival which takes a violent turn every year after the king of Valluvanadu is captured by Samuthiri, the chief of Kozhikode (also known as Zamorins).
Since then, the king of Valluvanadu sends suicide warriors (called Chaaverukas) every year to the festival to kill Samuthiri. One among them is Chandroth Valiya Panicker (Mammootty) and his chaaveruka. Post a thrilling action sequence, the movie jumps 25 years and the Valluvanadu families are running out of men; Chandroth Panicker (Unni Mukundan) and Chandroth Chanthunni (Achuthan) set out to overthrow the Zamorins and reclaim the lost honour of the Valluvanadu people.
M Padmakumar brings to life a slice of history on the big screen with dramatic touches of fiction and manages to hold your attention with his efficient story-telling. While the action sequences are well-shot, the film goes a tad off-track when the makers try to explore the emotional side of the story.
On the flip side, a tauter narrative would have made Mamangam a more effective watch.
Mammootty as Chandroth Valiya Panicker packs a punch when it comes to picking up the sword and the gravity-defying jumps. His transition from a fierce warrior to an effeminate artist during a certain portion of the film looks effortless.
Unni Mukundan's solid screen presence and impressive acting chops make the film more palatable. Apart from these two, it's Master Achuthan who steals your hearts with his affability and dexterous action scenes.
Prachi Tehlan as Unnimaaya is expressive in her portions. Kaviyoor Poonama and Valsala too lend support to the story-telling.
Manoj Pillai's cinematography blends beautifully with the script and together, the visuals turn out to be a treat. The fight sequences have been well-shot.
Raja Mohammad's editing scissors could have been a bit more sharper to tie the loose ends of the film.
'Boondon Si' has been beautifully picturised and the dance moves leave you mesmerised. The rest of the songs barely make a mark.
'Kalyug ke isse Raavan ke vinaash ke liye, ek maha avatar ki avashyakta hai.' Thankfully, the film doesn't resort to unnecessary heroism or turn out to be a one-man show. We are going with 3 stars out of 5 for Mamangam.