The non-resident Keralite’s celebrated nostalgia and his search for redemption in his homeland, garnished with ladles of camaraderie and pinches of bitter experiences is just the perfect recipe for a festival release. Add to that a superstar as the central character, an ensemble cast, a director whose name carries reverberations of box-office hits and it is almost a winning formula. Well, almost. There could, always, be exceptions. Ranjith’s Kadal Kadannu Oru Mathukutty is one such exception.

George Mathew aka Mathukutty (Mammootty) is a man on a mission. He has been entrusted by the Malayali association of Mettmann in Germany to rope in actor Mohanlal for their silver jubilee celebrations. Bullied by his wife (Muthumani), ignored by his children and eager to go home, Mathukutty grabs the opportunity and heads to Pathanamthitta, his hometown.

After rounds of the very predictable catching up with old friends and long-winding walks down memory lane later, events go out of control (as does the already tottering script) till the NRK’s rose-tinted view of God’s own country is smothered by ground realities. Strangely, it is only the viewers who feel that sense of déjà vu with a stale plot.

If you are wondering what’s new here, there is the setting in Germany (emphasised enough times to turn you off) and the fact that it is not just the protagonist’s expectations that come crashing down.

What director-scriptwriter Ranjith serves up for the much-awaited festival season is an insipid fare of leftovers, devoid of the ‘spirit’ of his previous outings. A patchwork of a script from a master scenarist with failed attempts at humour, satire and the absurd and a poor choice of actors (most of them versatile, but unsuited for their respective roles) leave the viewer disappointed. Dangling before the viewers, a glittering array of popular stars in cameos (Mohanlal, Dileep, Jayaram, et al.) is little compensation.

There is some talk of Gandhism accompanied by blaring background music (whatever happened to subtleties?), some on how money makes the world go round (think Pranchiyettan and the Saint and Indian Rupee), some on the vices of drinking (Spirit) and very little that is original or new.

Casting actors who have scripted recent successes or carved niches for themselves cannot salvage a movie that does not quite appeal to the sensibility or intelligence of the “average film-goer”. The director’s voiceover that booms at the end of the film almost seems like his excuse for letting his fans down.

Two strong points in the script are left unexplored: One: the character of Vidyadharan (Tini Tom) as the one-man media outfit that rakes up controversies. And two: the concept of NRIs switching on a mental calculator that is perpetually converting dollars/euros into rupee. Tiny strokes of brilliance lost in a confused plot.

Mammootty’s performance as the unassuming, submissive Mathukutty is that of a master at work. Let down by a weak script and not finding enough support in competent co-actors who are similarly tied down, the actor’s efforts are almost wasted. Mathukutty crossed the seas and arrived with a lot of expectations. He came, he saw, but did not conquer. And his trip remains largely forgettable.

Film: Kadal Kadannu Oru Mathukutty (Malayalam)

Director: Ranjith

Cast: Mammootty, Siddique, Nedumudi Venu, P. Balachandran, Muthumani, Alisha Mohammed