Mohanlal's Onam release Ittymaani Made in China has an interesting plot that appeals to audience all over the world. It explores a critical question -- what all a mother can do to regain the love of her children? In attempting to find an answer to this, the directorial-debut of Jibi-Joju duo banks a lot on some age-old cinematic techniques that fail to communicate with a set of audience with a renewed visual sensibility.
Mohanlal's Ittymaani is a money-hungry man at the cusp of youth and middle-age. Being the protagonist of a festival release aimed at Kerala's family audience, Ittymaani can't help but being the Malayalam cinema's archetypal son who is lovable, kind-hearted and sacrificial. The film's first half spends a lot of time establishing Ittimaani's character as a Kunnamkulam-based businessman who would do anything for money. He can even export duplicate cashew nuts to Kollam, Kerala's cashew capital. He learned the art of duplicating from his father Ittymathen who spent the prime of his life in China.
Ittymaani's neighbour Annamma is a widow who longs for her children on death anniversary of their father. The busy children -- two sons and a daughter -- quiet expectedly fail to turn up during a Christmas against their promise. What Ittymani does to bring Annamma's children back to her makes the crux of the film. The storyline resembles a Sathyan Anthikad family drama though it lacks the narrative skills his films are known for.
Stock characters, flat comedy and untamed melodrama expose the weak areas of the script, done by the director himself. Pun intended dialogues unleashed by the protagonist and his sidekicks often miss the target. The film has a set of actors such as Salim Kumar, Aju Varghese, Dharmajan and Hareesh Kaaran who have a track record as proven comedians, but the script doesn't offer them much to deliver. The sequences involving Mohanlal, Sidhique and KPAC Lalitha, however, overcome the shortcomings of the script.
Ittymaani still has enough traits that can satisfy the viewers who love to watch Mohanlal as an ordinary man who is out there to protect familial values. The film's box office performance would be a case to study. A success would mean a preachy family drama with a star at the centre is never too old to sell in Malayalam.