Malayalam Movie Review – Mammootty’s The Great Father

How many of you remember this amazing actor in “Nirakkoottu”, a Malayalam movie starring Mammootty, released in 1985? As the avenging angel who escapes from jail to kill the person responsible for his wife’s death? How many of you remember also the amazing acting displayed by Mammootty in his role as a convict? In every scene he appears, he takes us on a roller-coaster of emotions, and finally when he kills the villain, we heave a huge sigh of relief and go home happy, and convinced, that justice has been served.

Is this review about “The Great Father” or what?

And then there is “The Great Father”. A father who loves his only child. A father who suffers incredibly when he finds her raped and left for dead in the elevator of their apartment. A father who promises to find justice for his daughter. Perfect premise, perfect beginning and the perfect story line in today’s world.

After the rape, Mammootty’s acting is stunning. Restrained. And absolutely believable. His first impulse is to call the cops, but then the need to protect his daughter from further “rape” by the insensitive media and society, forces him to keep quiet. After the child comes back home, the viewers are all ready to move on to the next stage – justice.

And it gets better. Enter Arya, Tamil Super-Hero, who is in charge of the special squad that has been set up to prevent child pornography and abuse. With both the father and the (good-looking, six-pack abbed!) law officer breathing vengeance, it is probably a matter of time before justice is served. At least that is what the viewers are led to believe when intermission rolls around.

But what goes wrong?

Everything. Instead of a hard-hitting movie on child rape and the insensitivity shown by the society and media, what we get is ego clashes, grand standing and the need to be a “man”. The rape is swept under the carpet (so what’s new?), the parents do not tell the world (again, what’s new?), and the child is asked by her counselor to forget the incident as a nightmare and be happy, as otherwise her parents will be sad (what the h$%&@#?).

A common sense approach for the movie? An average business man, Mammootty works with the law, cooperates with Arya, and together they help bring down the rapist and serial-killer. Applause. Justice served. Viewers emotionally happy. Box office success. Instead, Mammootty comes gun blazing in front of his daughter’s school, intimidates the law when they come to investigate, and generally goes around town beating the crap out of every bad guy he can find.

Wait, it gets worse. Arya, the “hit first, ask questions later” cop, has an ego the size of his biceps. Instead of investigating, he spends more time at the gym and on the streets beating up the bad guys. He has no time for being sensitive to the needs of the victims. He barges into Mammootty’s house when he is not around, forces his daughter to answer questions about the rape, and then threatens Mammootty’s wife and father that he would forcefully take the daughter to the police station if she does not “confess” all. He even arranges for “counselors” at the girl’s school who threaten the girl to admit that she is raped so justice can be served.

For God’s sake, did no one read the script?

If by now you are angry at the turn of events, how both Mammootty and Arya set about finding the serial-killer should get you raving mad. With a need to promote himself, the rapist sends information about himself to a media reporter known more for his “yellow journalism” than intelligence or integrity, and he in turn, is forced to hand it over to Mammootty during an “interrogation”, who in turn hands it over to Arya. In the meantime, Arya suspects Mommootty’s employee and beats him up, and then realizes he has the wrong person in custody.

As the movie enters the climax scene, it gets even more bizarre. Plus, logic and the story line have walked off in a huff. I squirmed in my seat as the rapist beats up not just Arya, but Mammootty also (who has a gun with him) and then takes our great father to the cliff to throw him over. And who is the serial-killer? If you still want to know after reading this review, you deserve to watch 151 minutes of this movie till the very end.

Is there anything good going for this movie?

Not really. Am sure this movie will be a great box office success as it has all the masala elements you come to expect of a typical crowd-pleaser. Stunts, acting, and superb heroes.

But this is what this movie lacked. With the kind of fan following he has and the credibility his messaging brings, I expected Mammootty to set an example, and poke holes in our society’s fabric where we are cowards with a warped sense of attribution (It is never the man’s fault. She asked for it. What was she thinking when she went out at night? ad nauseum……). Today it is okay if a drunk man gets mugged or beaten to death in a fight. He is the victim, and the law is ready to prosecute the perpetrator. No shame attached to this poor “victim”. Now, same situation, but different gender. Can you imagine society feeling sorry for a woman who goes to a bar, gets drunk and then gets raped?

Ultimately, what started off as a potential hard-hitting movie about child rape and how it wrecks family and society, ended with two egoistic men who break every law (and logic) to prove that he is the better man. Sad.

My rating?

1 out of 5 (Nirakoottu is 5).

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