“How funny it is that while people from outside the country get inspired by Kerala culture, Keralites in turn send their kids to English medium schools so that they can learn the western way of life!”, says a character in this movie.
The title Salt Mango Tree might remind you of Mohanlal's epic comedy scene from 1986's Malayalam film Dhoore Dhoore Oru Koodu Koottam. In fact it should, as the title is inspired from that famous dialogue written by Sreenivasan and directed by Sibi Malayil.
While Mohanlal's Salt Mango Tree is a cooked up synonym by the masquerading teacher, for Uppumavu, here it stands as a sarcastic note to the simpletons who want to enroll their kids in reputed English medium schools.
There have been many 'heroes' who have dared to play negative or second lead roles and have come out with flying colours. Biju Menon too belong to that category of heroes who survived on the fringes of Malayalam cinema until directors discovered he had a flair for comedy. Vellimoonga was his last outing and he is back with Salt Mango Tree directed by Rajesh Nair.
Biju Menon plays the role of Aravind T.P, who hails from a middle class family. He has a mediocre job and enjoys a simple life with wife Priya (Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli) and son Manu (Master Varkichan).
Unlike Aravind, Priya is very ambitious and has dreams for her son. Being part of a very judgemental society, Priya wants to send her son to the very best school in the city. And thus begins a series of interviews, grooming sessions, discussions and fight for a Class 1 student's admissions.
Biju Menon plays the perfect family man and excels with his amazing comic timings. Lakshmi, who is a familiar name in the Tamil film industry and made an entry into Mollywood with Malayalam movie Angels, has done a neat job as a woe-stricken mother. Master Varkichan, who made his acting debut, has done a commendable job with his innocent expressions and cute little action songs. While Suhasini plays a pivotal role in the movie, many others like Paris Lakshmi, Saiju Kurup, Sudheer Karamana, Sarayu need special mentions.
After Escape from Uganda director Rajesh Nair has opted for a fun ride, capturing the life of a middle class man with humour-laden instances. There's nothing new when it comes to the plot, but the treatment of the subject is different. Taking a dig at the present education system, the director points to the ordinary society's common behaviour of assuming that a person who knows English is knowledgeable.
The script by Vinod Vijayakumar and Vinod Jayakumaran is light and engaging. Vishnu Sharma's cinematography manages to maintain the simplicity and enhance the beauty of the simple plot. The scenic beauty of the village is a highlight.
The music by Hesham Abdul Wahab has played an instrumental role giving a soothing effect for the film. The beautiful song 'Kattummel' aptly highlights the relationship between a grandfather and a child.
Salt Mango Tree emphasizes the importance of family that eagerly awaits the arrival of their children and grandchildren who have moved to cities.
Bringing in many elements of contemporary relevance laced with humour, the movie is a family entertainer revolving around a simple plot that banks on fun factors, hence making it a worthwhile watch.