Mammootty and I V Sasi can certainly say that they have managed to pull it off with a modicum of comfort and ease. Sasi and Mammootty, who have worked in more than 30 films spanning over several decades, have brilliantly recreated Balram, the angry, straight-forward no-nonsense policeman and Taradas, the cool, slimy, soft baddie. Both the characters have been played by Mammootty in his previous films. Inspector Balram in Inspector Balram, Avanazhi and Taradas in Athirathram. Sasi pits the one against the other and what we have is celluloid magic as Mammootty takes on Mammootty. It has the riveting drama of Spy vs Spy of Mad comics fame.
The forces of good and evil are well matched and it is almost Tom and Jerry game. The film works on two counts. One, the magical chemistry between Mammootty and Sasi still exists. secondly, the script is racy and is smartly structured. Of course, Mammootty is top notch as the cop and the villain. The differences (in portrayal) are subtle yet substantial.
Balram (Mammootty), the inspector that we know of, is now a DSP. And he is now in charge of the gang behind the arms that were unearthed at a college construction site. This gang is controlled by the Dubai-based don Taradas (Mammooty again). Taradas is a master manipulator who has all the strings of the government here and the police administration. he has many venal cops and Ministers in his pocket.
But Balram realizes that Taradas could be trapped through his ladylove Supriya (Katrina Kaif). Supriya is an actress and Taradas is madly in love with her. Balram uses this ‘soft spot’ and sends her to jail. An enraged Taradas has to come here and take on Balram. And what we have is some wonderful and powerful encounters between the two rivals.
In the end, the film winds up to a spectacular finale.
It is Mammootty as Balram, okay make it Taradas, who delivers a memorable performance. He has retained the links with the old characters to ensure continuity. Yet, he has given polish to them to give a contemporary relevance. Only a first-rate performer can do this. And Mammootty is one. What is important is that he seems to have enjoyed the challenge. Sasi has used his all histrionic ability (to do that in a commercial movie is great). He also looks very debonair in those designer outfits in Dubai.
Katerina Kaif, as the fragile beauty, is good. Though looking too soft, she makes a promising debut in Malayalam. The others in the cast Vani Viswanath, Siddique, Sreenivasan, Jagathy, Kalpana are eminently bankable.
The other plus point is that the film has a very contemporary chic look. The technical and production values certainly get high grades. Sanjeev Sankar camera work belongs to the top drawer. Jassie Gift’s rhythm-based music fits the bill almost perfectly.
Sasi shows that he has not lost his touch. The director, wielding the megaphone after a considerable gap, shows class is permanent.
Balram vs Taradas is yesterday once more.