Balan Pillai City is a little village tucked away in the mountain ranges. The village is named so after the owner of the first and the only tea stall in the village, Balan Pillai(Janardhanan). The naming was given by the local drunkard Varkey. Now Varkey is no more. He is survived by his wife(KPAC Lalitha) and four daughters. The eldest is Elsamma(Anne Augustine). After her dad’s death and her failure to pass in Std X exams, she takes up the responsibility of the entire family.
Elsamma supplies newspaper and milk to the various households in the village. Her friend Unnikrishnan(Kunchacko Boban), who she calls Paalunni, own cows and supplies milk to Elsamma. Paalunni secretly loves Elsamma. But he never gathers courage to tell her. Paalunni urges Kunnel Paappan(Nedumudi Venu), the local rich man, for acting as the go-between as he is very close to both Elsamma and Paalunni. Elsamma also is the local representative and the local agent of a newspaper. Using the newspaper, she constantly wages war against the panchayat member(Jagathy Sreekumar) and the local toddy shop owner(Vijayaraghavan) who also runs an illegal brewery. She also targets the marriage broker(Suraj Venjaramood) who is usually involved in one scam or the other. The events in the small and beautiful village take a different turn with the arrival of Ebimon(Indrajith), Kunnel Paappan’s grandson.
Lal Jose directs this movie based on a script by M Sindhuraj. Lal Jose and Sindhuraj deserves credit in taking a melodramatic story, sprinkling it with humor in big doses and serving it to us. During this process, the emotional contents are left unperturbed without going overboard. It is a very thin line to tread. Lal Jose pulls off the biggest challenge of entrusting an author backed role to a newcomer. We are convinced that Elsamma is indeed an aankutty in the initial part of the movie itself. The story revolves around how Elsamma overcomes difficulties in her life. So, the script just moves from one thread to another without having central plot. But, this can be overlooked. The negatives of the movie are the casting of Ebimon and the marriage broker. Ebimon’s intentions are left ambiguous and the marriage broker is a nuisance who never takes the plot forward. Having two seasoned artists to play these sets the wrong expectations with the audience. The experience of the movie could have been enhanced if Lal Jose had made the newcomer use her own voice. The visualization of the songs are good but the songs themselves are not great.
Anne Augustine, with a lopsided smile which reminds us of her father Augustine, gives a superlative performance as Elsamma. Her Elsamma can be gentle and also tough. She can even scare the henchmen of the local liquor baron. She has no time to waste as she is focused on providing the best for her family. Check out the scene when she gets upset with her mom for running away from their home to escape the work at home. She is vulnerable only for a few seconds and then she is back to her old self.
Kunchacko Boban is good as Paalunni. The whole world knows he is in love with Elsamma. But he can’t get the courage to tell her. Indrajit tries but the badly written role fails him. The rest of the performers are in the usual best.
A must see for Anne Augustine, Lal Jose and a melodramatic story told with humor without being preachy or being a tear-jerker.
Picture Courtesy: http://www.elsammaennaaankutty.com