Salt Mango Tree

saltmangotree (5)

Vampire Owl :: You had talked about a movie with this kind of a combination.

Vampire Bat :: Yes, about that popular funny dialogue from Mohanlal in the movie Doore Doore Oru Koodu Koottam.

Vampire Owl :: I remember the comedy scenes. Memories come back to me from the hidden spaces of immortality. I hope none of them stay to haunt me forever.

Vampire Bat :: It had also won the National Film Award that year for Best Film on Other Social Issues.

Vampire Owl :: I need to watch that one again.

Vampire Bat :: You should. It should be the best movie with a satirical side from Sibi Malayil.

Vampire Owl :: What about this movie and the possible relation to that flick from the eighties?

Vampire Bat :: The educational system seems to be related, and there are kids, teachers and parents as it seems.

Vampire Owl :: And why did we choose this one over Hotel Transylvania 2?

Vampire Bat :: Well, Biju Menon might create another Vellimoonga here; so this might be the nice and interesting choice! There is also a chance that we might find the animated movie sequel offensive to vampire-kind.

[Gets the tickets].

What is it about? :: Aravindan (Biju Menon) runs a medical shop in the city while his wife Priya (Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli) is working as an accountant. The only thing which they think about is to get their son Ashwin (Master Varkichan) admission in one of the best schools in the city. As the two become more and more obsessed with this, they arrange English tuition for the boy, try to ask everyone if there is any chance for the admission one way or the other, and even try to change themselves to become the modern parents. The Malayalam medium or state syllabus doesn’t seem to work for them, but a person named Kumaran (Sunil Sukhada) promises to try to help them. With the admission for only one of those big schools in the city left, can they finally do this?

The defence of Salt Mango Tree :: There are three things that this movie does have, and they are the comedy, messages and the feel-good factor in the end – even with not that much of an effective presence as expected, they are all present. We can say that it is a good attempt at dealing with the modern Malayali aversion for Malayalam, considering it not useful at a time when English and Hindi are running strong outside the state; this love for mother tongue and the message that good score in examinations won’t make one a better person is fine. The fact that nobody becomes a better person by speaking English in style or with fluency, and studying at a school which takes more fees doesn’t make a child something more, is the right message. There are some nice jokes in this movie too, and Biju Menon’s skills once again elevate them to a higher level. The movie is also short in length, and that is also good.

Claws of flaw :: There is nothing that deep in Salt Mango Tree, and its elements are not used to its best advantage. The feel-good factor is just too late to arrive, and a lot of incidents are overdone instead of keeping things realistic. There are parts of the story which were kept believable and without being preachy. The message also struggles to become the moral which it could have been. The songs are not that much making an impact, but can work depending on individual tastes, while the scenes in the village are just half-baked, and so is the attempt at the career guidance school. The story could have focused on its core, and should have brought the significance of learning one’s mother tongue, as well as letting the children following their dreams as a step by step procedure, but this one doesn’t. Even the title itself is not explored as it should have been!

Performers of the soul :: You know the person to look out for! Biju Menon has been the one cool actor whose movies are loved by the people without giving him that superstar status; it is more of the love for simple and funny moments from him which are so much memorable, and he is also one actor who never disappoints within his fortress of simple and family-based entertainment. In his most recent performances, whether it was about providing support in Madhura Naranga and Bhaiyya Bhaiyya, bringing the best of a cameo performance in Kunjiramayanam or leading the way in Vellimoonga, he was right there, strong in the comic side in all these flicks which came right before Salt Mango Tree. In this movie too, things are not much different as he manages the character with ease, and connects to the audience.

Further Performers of the soul :: Biju Menon is undoubtedly the man who saves this movie from going low, as he is in charge of all those dialogues for which the audience provided claps; he often lifts the movie out of nowhere when it gets close to spoiling its main idea with the weak story-line; this is still quite a step down from Vellimoonga for him. Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli was last seen in the Malayalam movie industry in Angels with Indrajith Sukumaran; even though she was paired with him, she was not really the leading lady on screen. She has managed her first leading role in Malayalam very well and has excelled in the emotional sequences. The rest of the cast lead by the one who played the character of assistant in the medical shop are all good, including the child actor Master Varkichan and Suhasini who comes late and makes an impact in the climax. But most of the situations focus on to our two leading characters, and the rest has less to do. Maybe a better story could have widened the focus, but the cast manages to be good.

How it finishes :: The attempt here might have been to create another comedy flick with satirical elements as we had earlier seen in the big solo hit featuring Biju Menon, Vellimoonga. Salt Mango Tree does try and only somewhat reach there. Just somewhere there in its own field, Salt Mango Tree achieves what the other movie of a similar theme Jilebi completely failed to do; to be funny with the message even though everything not coming together reaching the expectations. Taking the title from the literal translation of the food “Uppumavu” which was used by Mohanlal in the 1986 movie Doore Doore Oru Koodu Koottam, the movie should work in a weekend which has less to offer otherwise. Do not expect another Vellimoonga and things should be just okay.

Release date: 6th November 2015
Running time: 124 minutes
Directed by: Rajesh Nair
Starring: Biju Menon, Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli, Master Varkichan, Suhasini Manirathnam, Indrans, Saiju Kurup, Sarayu, Sunil Sukhada, Sudheer Karamana, Pradeep Kottayam, Paris Laxmi


@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.