Sukumari’s performance tugs at the heartstrings of the viewer.
Casting veteran actress Sukumari in the lead role in Mizhikal Sakshi is a brilliant move by director Asok R. Nath. She plays the role of a mute and bereaved mother who has fond memories of her dead son. With her vast experience, Sukumari has given an incredibly emotive performance. So long as this character appears on screen, the film keeps tugging at the heartstrings. But, there are moments when it shifts to lofty sermons about patriotism and turns quite tiresome. The script is by Anil Mukhathala.
An aged beggar woman (Sukumari) clutching a ragged bundle strays into a town and reaches a large temple where she meets Chollusami (Kochu Preman) who reads out the Ramayana to devotees. She endears herself to the people there who call her Kooniyamma. They permit her to stay in the temple doing menial jobs and helping out with the preparation for the rituals. One day, the temple employees see her performing ‘niskaram’ (the Muslim prayer). They find a photograph of a young man, Syed (Mohanlal), in her bundle. Syed was hanged to death after the court found him guilty of exploding a bomb in a train killing hundreds of people. Kooniyamma is actually Nabeesa, and Syed was her son. She is driven out of the temple and purification rituals are conducted. The temple officials complain to the police that they suspect Nabeesa to be part of a terrorist plot against the temple. Nabeesa is arrested. A police officer, Adithyan (Manoj K Jayan) is given the task of investigating the case. Through Adithyan, we learn the truth about the past of Nabeesa and Syed.
Kochu Preman excels in the role of a philosophical Chollusami. Some scenes in the film take a dig at contemporary society. The cast includes Nedumudi Venu, Mala Aravindan, Vineeth, Kailas Nath, Dinesh Panikkar, Renuka, Krishna and Joseph.
The coming together of K.J. Yesudas, O.N.V. Kurup and V. Dakshinamoorthi after a gap of 20 years is heartening. Ramachandra Babu, the cinematographer, has succeeded in capturing the anguish, anxiety and fear of Kooniyamma in close-ups. Beena Paul’s editing proves her craftmanship. The film, Mizhikal Sakshi, produced by V.R. Das for Cyber Vision, is worth watching.