Disclaimer: Mild Spoilers.
After 19 years, they are coming back.
When Lal announced the sequel to “in Harihar Nagar” I was sure of two results; the movie will either be a super hit or a super flop. The former prediction turned out to be right. 🙂 When the film was released, I found it very difficult to get tickets. All four shows were crowded and we’ve tried to for days. To make things even worse the story and plot points started circulating in my friends’s circle and the film was spoiled for me. I had to wait till the film was released in DVD to finally watch it.
Mahadevan (Mukesh), Appukuttan (Jagadish), Govindankutty (Siddique), and Thomaskutty (Asokan) are reuniting after a decade. Thomaskutty’s wedding is fixed and they surprised him with their visit. They try to live their lives as “youngsters” with ultra modern costumes and city lifestyle. Soon, every ghost from the Christmas past enters their lives including John Honai.
Lal added the essence that ensured the film’s success to bring back four beloved characters in a version you don’t want to see them in. Yep, that’s what every major film critic said. Since two decades passed, character’s development is essential but unfortunately, every characteristic that was seen in “in Harihar Nagar” is there but in an exaggerated manner, especially Appukuttan’s stupidity. In this movie he is annoying and he shouts every out of the box comic line with bulged out eyes. At point, I couldn’t tolerate his comedy and when analyzed closely, Appukuttan was not *this* dull-witted in the predecessor. He was slick and clever who also made interesting statements like “ninodalla, ninakku nannai pattitundennariyam” (I didn’t ask you, you are attacked nicely) to Thomaskutty after he was attacked by goons. The dialogues he stated where either situational comedy or satirical lines under pressure. He is made into an “unsahikable” joker in this movie. At one point Mahadevan says “oru maatavumillallo ivannu” (he has not changed a bit) in an irritated manner, I thought to myself “he has changed a lot”. Mukesh did his share of everything wrong personality wise,from a pervert to a hypocrite. In his introduction scene he is said to be separated from his wife and daughter. 2 seconds later he is shown in one of his coaching classes, as he is a professional personality development trainer, pointing his laser beam at a woman’s breasts saying “find your passion”. I facepalmed, no matter what decade this is, promoting a brand for male population always involves horrendous jokes involving women’s body parts and perverts. But then, Mahadevan gets what he deserves in the form of an exploding balloon thus the comic relief.
As an actor, Mukesh is fantastic in his role as he did both and comic and dramatic sequences with ease. The person I liked the most is Siddique as Govindankutty. It is a pleasure to watch him act and no one could match up with Siddique when it comes to his effortless dialogue delivery, exasperation expressed during comedy and suspense sequences and, in the final climax where he nailed it with his emotional outburst. If any of his co-stars made the on-screen environment irksome, Siddique is there to save the day. The only aspect I didn’t like about Govindankutty is the “stud” nature. He is shown to be very loving to his wife (Lena) but during her absence, he flirts with younger women, probably might have taken things too far with his playboy attitude to finally earn Parvathy’s wrath. The one person who overacted his heart out is Ashokan. The final twist about his character is the most talked about aspect of this movie. First of all, it was a good twist, an unexpected one, because adding a flavor relatively different from a conventional Malayalam film was rare and it took courage from Lal’s side. It was a good twist though the sequences that were introduced were hard to digest. Lal polished the events leading up to the climax well but the reason and the appropriate developments were missing. Apart from that, Thomaskutty is the most innocent character from “in Harihar Nagar”. The story looks unbelievable in that sense but the final ending was uplifting with the depiction of their friendship and love for each other. I enjoyed watching Vineeth’s performance although it was just a cameo. He is a talented yet underused actor but Lal couldn’t bring a female lead worth acting. The movie was released at a time when pretty-faces-who-can’t-act started coming to the limelight. But, in spite of her limitations, Lakshmi Rai was not substandard. Dramatic scenes where she has no dialogue were shot aptly, much of it owes to her co-stars. I liked how she panicked when Vineeth’s angrily confronts the villain (not giving anything away) and the final scene where she says goodbye to Mahadevan and others. She is visibly shedding crocodile tears and looks like bad acting but then, thanks to the climax we know why. In that sense, her performance works.
2 Harihar Nagar has elements of nostalgia that will prompt you to watch the predecessor as well as a turning point that makes this series different based on one’s perspective. I enjoyed watching this film but then it is forgettable and watching the climax, in spite of the unexpected nature, feels more like being hit by a train and you are trying to recover from the effects. Perhaps that’s what Lal wanted in the first place.