Director Shafi’s Venicile Vyapari (The Merchant of Venice) is happening in the 1980’s and it is essentially about the unveiling of a murder mystery. Scripted by ‘Classmates’ fame James Albert, the film has an engaging first half which is full of dramatic twists and turns, but things tend to be a bit too predictable from then on.
Pavithran (Mammootty), a constable in a police station in Alappuzha, is sent to investigate the murder of a local coir worker Ajayan (Biju Menon). As some of the cops who had gone there for investigation were brutally manhandled by the powerful landlords in the area, Pavithran disguises himself as a coir trader. Some smart moves later, he becomes a rich businessman and quits his job as a constable. Ammu (Kavya Madhavan), who incidentally is Ajayan’s sister, falls in love with Pavithran.
With several characters, plots and sub plots which are packed pretty neatly, the story develops in a gripping manner. But things get annoying after a while as the incidents move ahead without any surprises. The repeated attempts to boost the hero make the proceedings quite melodramatic as well and the old fashioned narrative doesn’t help matters either. Shamdutt’s camera and Bijibal’s music are fine.
The ill fitting wigs, big collars and shirts with pockets on both chests could give an eighties feel, but there is nothing much beyond that to remind those times. Shafi, who is mainly known for his laugh riots, is evidently not too comfortable with the ‘whodunit’ thriller. James Albert has used several SMS jokes to bring in the laughs but quite often it sounds repetitive and ineffective.
Also, it is quite surprising that an actor of Mammootty’s stature decided to mimic yesteryear hero Jayan in the Kannum kannum… song from the 1980 hit ‘Angaadi’. Still he comes up with an impressive performance in the film. The rest of the cast including Kavya Madhavan, Poonam Bajwa, Suraj Venjarammoodu, Salim Kumar, Jagathy Sreekumar, Vijayaraghavan, Suresh Krishna, Janardhanan and Sreeraman have performed their roles in a nice way.
In an effort to narrate a story which happened some decades back, Venicile Vyapari ends up as a film in a rather outdated pattern, especially during the crunch situations. The feeling of ‘haven’t we watched all these several times before?’ may come to your mind during most sequences. Of course, the film has some nice moments in between and could be an okay one time watch.