Damodaran is unable to take his pregnant wife to the hospital due to heavy rain and the rebellion followed by the murder of Rajiv Gandhi. His wife’s brother(referred to as ammavan by the protagonist and his friends) arranges for an old woman who used to look into such cases of child deliveries in the past. Although he was initially against it, Damodaran later agrees. However the child dies causing great disappointment to Damodaran. He places the child on a table and goes to see his wife whose condition has worsened. Ammavan, a chain smoker, blows the smoke at the dead child which leads to its survival. The child is named Bineesh. As a child Bineesh buys cigarettes for his uncle as he gets to buy something using the balance amount. When he becomes a teenager he is prompted by his friend Safar,to smoke a cigarette which eventually leads to him getting addicted to it. He is caught in the school for smoking due to a foolish statement made by Safar and is asked to bring his parents. He decides to bring his uncle. That night while going to meet his uncle he sees a packet of cigarette and decides to smoke one. He moves out and smokes peacefully. However he gets mistaken for a thief by 2 police constables and is taken to police station where everyone gets to know about his secret passion. As time passes his addiction increases and he gets the title of theevandi(chainsmoker).
His elder sister gets married to Vijith,a BSCL party member and he falls in love with his childhood friend Devi. Devi is the daughter of Madhu,an active BSCL member. He is against the affair of his daughter with Bineesh but later relents on the condition that Bineesh reduces his smoking habit.
Critic’s Rating: 3.0/5
Mandharam Story: Mandharam is the coming of age story of Rajesh, how he finds true love after a series of heartbreaks.
Mandharam Review: Mandharam begins with the all too familiar trope – the schoolboy who spends his days dreaming about his childhood sweetheart and classmate, who, at the end of school, lets him know that she has a ‘muracherukkan’.
Rajesh (Asif Ali) decides to stay single for the rest of his life, until he comes across Charu (Varsha Bolamma) years later.
However, the relationship with Charu is not destined to be either, and Rajesh turns into a free soul, who takes on impromptu bike rides to temples in the North. The first half is predictable and basically old wine in new bottles; instead of a village, it’s an engineering college in Bengaluru where the hero and his group of friends pursue women, and the object of affection is an aspiring fashion designer who he meets in cafes. Asif Ali’s act as the confused lover boy offers nothing new in the first half, and the only interesting bit would be the comic relief provided by his group of friends played by Jacob Gregory and Arjun Ashokan, who seems to capable a carrying a film all by himself.
The various ups and downs in Rajesh and Charu’s relationship seems to make no sense at all and the heartbreak seems repetitive and tedious. The writer seems confused whether youngsters should follow their hearts or obey their parents. However, Asif Ali’s look and demeanor as the bohemian traveller in the second half is interesting, so are his relationships. The film is not boring by any means, and the contrast between the pastel colours and soft lighting during the Charu episode is in stark contrast with the more sober and darker final episodes.
Asif Ali has surely matured as an actor and has presented the various stages of life of a man convincingly. While Varsha Bolamma has nothing more to do than look pretty and cute, Anarkali Marakkar presents a memorable performance.
The film deserves applause for portraying a bike riding, drinking heroine (Anarkali Marakkar) as worthy of loving, and can be considered an exploration of aspirations vs reality when it comes to relationships. Mandaram can be quite an interesting watch for young cine goers.