Danny (2002)- Mammotty, Vijayaraghavan, Vani Vishwanath

Overall: 3.5 out of 5

T.V.Chandran, is one of the last surviving arty directors in India who keeps the flag of uncompromised cinema flying. And when superstar Mammootty supports him by acting without any remuneration for Danny, the intentions are noble. Spanning several decades from 1930s-on when Danny is born and ends in the year 2000, with his death, Chandran has showcased Kerala’s political history from Gandhiji’s freedom struggle to the present day Vajpayee government. Whatever happens in Danny’s life is closely linked to real life political happenings, which are shown interspersed in black and white.

Daniel Thompson (Mammootty) looses his parents at a very young age and he strives hard to make a living. Danny’s best friend Freddy (Siddique) helps him to open a small cycle repair shop, and the priest of the local church gives him a saxophone, which later becomes an inseparable part of Danny. Freddy finds a girl Clara for Danny and thus they get married. But the marriage is short lived as one day Clara elopes with her lover taking Danny’s small daughter. Danny finds solace in his saxophone and with Freddy he goes to a near by village for a programme. They meet a rich landlord who forces Danny to marry his only daughter and lecturer Margaret (Vani Viswanath) who is pregnant. Freddy advices Danny to get married to Maggi and get settled in life.  Margaret accepts Danny for the sake of her child, and is forced to tolerate him as her father leaves all the wealth in Danny’s name. Maggi can never accept him, as he is illiterate and not polished.

Years pass by and Margaret and Danny live with their son (Vijayaraghavan) and his wife (Sona Nair). One day Danny gets a letter from Clara that their daughter is getting married in Bangalore, but Maggi does not let Danny meet them. The family finds Danny and his saxophone irritating and they shift him to a sanatorium for convenience. He is happy there in the company of the doctor (Ratheesh) and the other inmates. One day another lady (Mallika Sarabhai) is brought there by her children and in no time Danny strikes a rapport with her. They share their miseries and become friends, much to the dislike of their relatives. But the society including Danny’s daughter misunderstands their relationship and they are left high and dry.

Mammootty in the eponymous role of Danny is excellent. Stripping himself of his entire superstar image, he inhabits his role with a searing intensity. The effect is of an actor who has grasped the complex nuances of screen acting. Mallika Sarabhai, Vani Viswanath and Siddique have also excelled in their roles. The background score of Johnson adds to the flow of the film.

On the whole Danny leaves you feeling quite high about Malayalam films

Directed by TV Chandran

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