Krishna Das (Prithviraj) owns ancestral property in Kerala, which he about to sell to a multi-national mining corporation, without realizing the history and heritage of the land. To make him realize its importance, Thandachan (Arya), chief of the forest area, narrates the story of Kelu (Prithviraj), Vavvali (Prabhu Deva) and Ayesha (Genelia D’Souza), on how they fought against the tyrant Portuguese in the 16th century. Kelu’s fight against Vasco Da Gama forms the basic story line of the movie.
Its been a long time since I saw a movie with so many top-notch actors (reminded me of Mayabazaar). Prithviraj, as the main lead was good. Though his body was well toned, I thought he looked a bit bulky. Prabhu Deva was excellent as Kelu’s sidekick. He provides the only laughs in the movie. I never really realized how beautiful Genelia is until I watched this movie. She looked absolutely gorgeous. Her character though was a very inconsistent. She is angry at Kelu for destroying her kingdom, but at the same time falls in love with him (all in the same scene). Nitya Menen and Vidya Balan have very short roles and are adequate (We get a glimpse of Vidya Balan’s “Dirty Picture” in one song). Jagathy Sreekumar is superb as the prime minister. His is the best performance of the movie. He is rivaled only by Amol Gupte, who is excellent in his role as the helpless king. Tabu and Arya have guest appearances (Tabu looked old!)
Santosh Sivan happens to be a very talented cinematographer, period. But his choice of films as a director has always been strange. After delivering a period dud like Asoka in 2001, he once again tried to create something similar, but this time on a much larger scale with a bigger ensemble of cast. And to his credit, does a good job this time around. But it is the story by Shankar Ramakrishnan which disappoints. For starters, he tried to relate historical characters with current generation, which I thought was absolutely unnecessary. The mining corporation wanting to buy the land, the NGO, etc were totally unnecessary and helped the story in no way. He should have stuck with the 16th century to develop a much better script. Also, being a movie about Kerala, it seemed like a lot of the story line was edited for the Telugu version, which made the screenplay horrible. Few scenes ended so abruptly that they made no sense.
Music by Deepak Dev is really good for the songs. But when it comes to the background music, he rips off tunes from Pirates of the Caribbean and Gladiator. Something more original would have done better justice to the movie. For a dubbed movie, the lyrics happened to be really good. My favorites were “Chinni Chinni” and “Neevevaro”. The later was brilliantly picturized. Editing by Sreekar Prasad was fine. Being a Santosh Sivan film, it is supposed to be visually extravagant, and he does not disappoint.
Now I understand why they dont usually dub Malayalam movies into Telugu. Forget lip-sync, it was as if I was watching a Japanese dubbing movie initially. I heard really good reviews about the film from my Mallu friends and therefore decided to give it a try. But I was actually disappointed. Having such a great ensemble of cast, Santosh Sivan could have made a much better movie. But lack of punch in the script, atleast for the Telugu audience, is a big let down. Great cinematography, good acting, but half baked script and untidy screenplay thwart my expectations. There is absolutely no entertainment in the movie (It was like watching a story from my History book). I would have preferred watching the Mallu version rather than spending 150 bucks on this. I suggest you do what I dint!