Mammootty-starrer Mamangam is a period-action-drama movie that dwells on folklore. Mamangam is associated with a trade fair that dates back to the 15th century and its patrons were usurped by the Zamorin, thereby becoming its patron saint.
Hence Mamangam, held once in twelve years in Trunavaya on the banks of Bharatapuzha is a symbol of power also. There the Zamorin asserts his supremacy over the kingdom. Only that he won’t go unquestioned. The Chavers, or suicide squads, from Valluvanadu challenges the supremacy of the Zamorin. But for years they commit this political harakiri and ends up attaining martyrdom.
So more than a trade fair Mamangam is also marketplace of power, bloodshed and feud dating back to centuries.
The Mammootty-starrer has a host of characters to suit a vast canvas of a medieval era folklore. The filmmakers have shown restraint in not hyping up the movie in the run-up to its release despite its towering expectations.
So Mamangam has blood seeping through its myriad canvas. But it also is a rich mix of vibrant colours to suit the drama that unfurls through courtesans and palace intrigues.
Mammootty as Chadroth Valiya Panikkar is the thread which carries the story, which is engaging. It is about the sacrifices in the name of feud, honour and bloodshed. But unlike Vadakkan Veera Gadha, comparison with which is inevitable, Mamangam doesn’t sift through the realms of romance.
But like Chanthu, Chandroth Valiya Panikkar’s character has a stain of being a traitor who fled from a Mamangam. And that is a cardinal sin in a family where men are born to die as martyrs and women are more than willing to flaunt that sacrifice.
But Mammootty has unleashed a character with a feminine touch in Mamangam and you need to hit the screens to figure out why.
Though dance sequences are not his forte, Mammootty has succeeded in justifying the feminine shades of this character, which is shrouded in mystery.
Unni Mukundan and Master Achuthan are the other key men in this epic story but Prachi Tehlan, Tarun Raj Arora, Kaniha and Anu Sithara also have enough screen space.
The first stunt scene after Mammootty’s appearance lasts almost 7 minutes and it could have been better curtailed and shot. But some of the stunt scenes, overseen by Shyam Kaushal have captured the essence of the martial art to an extent.
Mamangam’s screen adaptation and dialogues are by Shankar Ramakrishnan and the dense oratory is perhaps a pointer to the effort to recapture a bygone era.
Manoj Pillai’s cinematography is a commendable effort and the huge sets have more or less synced with the mood of the folklore.
M Jayachandran’s songs have captured the vibrant hues of the scenes portrayed.
The filmmakers have not revealed the budget of the 156 minute 27 second movie would definitely cost a bounty considering the massive sets, its star-cast and the thousands of faceless men wading through its vast canvas.
The filmmakers have done a bit of explanation as a narrative in the beginning and end to portray the significance of Mamangam as a tradition, its history soaked in bloodshed and honour.
Mamangam is certainly set in an epic backdrop and also gives a twist to the lead characters’ deep faith in sacrificing their lives to achieve martyrdom, which is evident in certain discourses between them.
So how does history put an end to the warrior instincts that feed this tradition of bloodshed?
The cinematic answers are to be seen in more than three-thousand screens around the world.