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Praja (2001)- Mohanlal, Aishwarya, Vijayaraghavan, Manoj K Jayan


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Overall: 3 out of 5

Mohanlal continues to be in the ‘age of rage’. Praja written by Renji Panikkar and directed by Joshi is another ‘avial’ movie. Once again Mohanlal plays a ‘retired’ underworld don who is forced to come out of retirement and fight against creepy cops, corrupt politicians and crazy rivals. Renji Panikkar and Joshi’s aim was to dish out another political thriller based on Kerala politics. Sorry! They end up like someone who is trying to talk out loud, with their mouth full.

Roughly constructed and haphazardly shot and even burdened with long tedious scenes, this is yet another yarn about underworld politician nexus. Musthafa Haji or Bapu(Anupam Kher), is the uncrowned king of the Mumbai underworld. Bapu had picked up an orphan from the streets and made him his right hand man, Zakir Ali Hussain(Mohanlal). One day Zakir gets fed of his gangster life and decides to go back to his roots in Kochi.

Zakir now leads a retired life in Kochi with his two henchmen, and runs a charitable trust in the name of his mentor Musthafa Haji. Meanwhile a police officer Maya Mary Kurien (Aiswarya) crosses swords with him, which soon turns to love. But Zakir has now, new powerful enemies including the D.G.P Joseph Madapally(Babu Raj),Balaraman(Shammi Thilakan) and DD (Vijayaraghavan). They cook up a plan and raid his charitable trust, which leads to more ‘dishum-dishum’. All these infuriate the main villain Laha Vakkachan (Shades of K.Karunakaran) whose old enemy is Zakir. In the climax when Vakkachan is celebrating his 50th year in politics along with the other baddies the one-man-army of Zakir arrives. The rest is total mayhem of abuses, violence and unchecked anger.

Ultimately your heart goes out to Mohanlal, who despite the odds has come out with steel-strong performance. But even he finds it difficult to match Renji Panikkar’s verbal diarrhoea. As for others in the cast, well, absolutely no comments. What with all these fights, dances, killings and a thousand lectures, you wish Renji Panikkar and Joshi had understood that at times silence, subtlety and sense are far more effective than a hysterical heap of 18 reels.

Directed by Joshi
Story and Screenplay by Renjit Panikar
Music by MG Radhakrishnan
Lyrics by Girish Putenchery
Distributed by Swargachithra
Songs sung by: MG Sreekumar, Sujatha, Vasundra Das, Mohanlal

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