Mattannur Chandramohanan, whom everyone fondly calls 'Chandrettan' is one among many of us; hence he works at a government office to fulfil the compulsions of daily life, has a wife, another government servant, and a son, to complete the checklist prepared by society. He is again one of us for he lives in another identity - that of an art critic who likes to spend time watching dance shows, listening to music, writing reviews and partying with friends.
The only thing that bridges the gap between his dual identities is the frequent phone calls from wife Sushma, whom his family must have arranged for him, asking "Chandrettan evideya? (Chandrettan, where are you?)." In an obvious balancing act to be stable between the compulsions of the duo within him - one in the wedlock and the free bird - he lies with a wobbling tongue, often to be caught red-handed.
Chandrettan Evideya, the latest Dileep-starrer by Siddharth Bharathan, is in its essence a family drama that looks at the institution of marriage through a critic's eye and presented as a popular narrative.
Trying hard, and sincerely, to be a good husband and father, Chandramohanan takes his family on a vacation to Thanjavur (Tanjore), the land which keeps alive the memories of a rich history and culture wherein art in all its forms flourished.
Ironically, his journey to be a perfect family man ends up being one towards just the opposite as a practitioner of nadi jyothisham (a kind of astrology practised in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and some other regions in India) unravels to him and the family, his millennium-year-old past where he was Velkozhu Kottuvan, the court poet of a Chola king. The astrologer alerts his family to keep a watch on Chandramohanan since Vasanthamallika, a dancer and his lost love in the other birth, is certain to come back for him (rationalists, please keep away, this one is not for you).
The life of Chandramohanan, the aesthete, changes then on as he starts to see Kottuvan in his mirror and with the entry of Dr. Geethanjali (Namitha Pramod), a failed doctor and aspiring dancer, who seems to be the new avatar of Vasanthamallika to him. What will happen between the trio - Chandramohanan, Sushma and Geethanjali - makes the film an interesting narrative, though not so compelling.
The best part about the movie is that it frees Dileep, the actor, from the unrealistic comic stereotypes which have been proving to be suicidal for him for quite sometime now. The film, with a strong base on middle-class realism, treads the popular narrative line even as it carefully tries to refrain from going after the commercial formula.
The script by acclaimed short story writer Santhosh Echikkanam is the backbone of the film. The script keeps on loosing and regaining its tightness. The attempts to create some situational comedy turn to be damp squib often. However, Echikkanam, with the craftsmanship of a good story teller, succeeds to complete the circle in an appealing way.
Even as Dileep portrays the complex character of Chandramohanan neatly, the shadow of his earlier characters unnecessarily overlaps in some sequences. Anusree begins by reminding us of her rustic innocuous aspiring urban woman in Diamond Necklace but goes far away as an actress with her genuine portrayal of Sushma, and steals the show especially towards the end of the film.
Namitha Pramod's character has not much to do but she surely catches eyes with the neatly choreographed steps. The characters of Mukesh and Suraj Venjaramood could have been donned by anyone as they are just fillers whose duty is just to set the plot. Veteran KPAC Lalitha as the old lady advisor of Sushma and newcomer Soubin Shahir as Sumesh, Chandran's colleague and roommate, have done their parts well. Unfortunately, the character of Chemban Vinod, (the brother-in-law of Chandramohanan) seems to have nothing to tap the potential of a brilliant actor like him.
Prashanth Pillai has done the composer's role well, especially with "Vasanthamallike" which is already in hit charts. The background score too goes well with the plot. Shyju Khalid's cinematography and Baven Sreekumar's editing help the narrative.
Siddharth can be proud about being the continuum of a tradition of telling tales of complex human conditions in a way that attracts commoners.
Chandrettan Evideya is for those who value familial bonds, a type which constitutes the majority of movie-goers in this part of the world.