STORY : Vismayam follows the journeys of four different personalities – Sairam, an assistant manager of a supermarket, homemaker Gayathri, college student Abhiram and schoolgirl Mahitha.
REVIEW : In a monsoon of controversial hits and experimental flicks in Mollywood, Vismayam is a modest movie if not for its star cast. Lining up the priorities, concerns and predilections of common man, the film is subtle in approach, though it moves ahead making you believe that a bigger 'vismayam' (amazement) is in store, which sadly, hardly arrives.
Sairam is an employee of a grocery chain, who is willing to resort to some drastic tactics to win a promotion and retain his job. Abhiram, a youngster, has been studious and focussed, but only until he meets a girl he falls for. An innocent soul and Good Samaritan, schoolgirl Mahitha is on a mission to track down one of her missing friends. Meanwhile, homemaker Gayathri chances upon someone from her past, who is all set to change her life.
Punctuating their stories is the trials and tribulations of commoners, middleclass challenges, dwindling safety nets of law and order and some 'how people turn practical' gyan. Yes, the style of narration isn't stale and also retains audience interest till the end, but not in a way that leaves them satisfied, let alone amazed. The film begins with the disclaimer that it's the story of Malayalis in Hyderabad. Interestingly, you see loads of signboards and public notices in Malayalam, in Hyderabad! Even autorickshaw drivers speak Malayalam, to one's 'vismayam'! Only the characters of Mohanlal, Joy Mathew and Gautami – in certain portions – are given properly lip-synced Malayalam lines. Well, though all of these come across as silly and amusing aspects for the regional audience, they are mostly forgivable and understandable as it's a multi-lingual film. For a Malayali, Vismayam can be more like watching a Telugu movie, despite the presence of a handful of well-cast Malayalam stars. Many sequences can come across as quite cinematic, at least as compared to Mollywood sensibilities – be it the one where a happy Mahitha helps an elderly lady dispose waste, her admitting of a little boy into her school, Abhiram's 'accidental' brushing of lips against a girl's… and more.
As for the movie's title that translates to amazement, all that the story offers is a single one towards the climax, post which the rest of the 'moments' become predictable. And also the reasons quoted to wrap things up for a 'happily thereafter…' is hardly convincing or moving, to make you come out of the hall feeling contented.
The character Sairam reminds one of numerous commoner roles Mohanlal has effortlessly pulled off, and he has nothing new to offer in this. As an embittered woman, Gautami is convincing, though her lines towards the climax do not add any appeal. Raina Rao is a performer of potential, if not for the 'excessive innocence' she portrays in certain sequences which comes off as irritating. Abhiram's is one of those cliched characters with a story graph and lines that are done to death in our films.Vismayam definitely deserves the time of a one-time watch, but it's no stunner.