It is a fact that any story told with a dose of comedy is appetizing for the general public, especially when it comes to cinema. Salt n Pepper is a movie that provides just that. It didn’t have any of the comedy stars that we usually see in Malayalam films. Yet it managed to bring a decent crowd into the theaters in its first week of release. But is comedy the only factor that drew people towards this film? Because Dileep films has been doing the same thing for over a decade.
We really are sick and tired of stereotypes. Aren’t we?
Beginning from the poster, people could smell something unusual. It didn’t proclaim itself to be a different movie. Nor did it have the fiery eyes of an angry young man or an aged superstar. Instead all we could see was some bright colors with characters scattered here and there. In a corner ran the caption, “oru dosa undakiya katha”. It really didn’t give in.
Salt n Pepper doesn’t tell a new story. But then, when was the last time that we ever saw a new story on a 70mm screen? What the film does is that it takes an old story and splatters it with a comedy of different flavor. There is a measure of irony in it, the perfect example being the introduction of Babu’s (Baburaj) introduction. There is an elegant subtlety in the film’s humor, which glides throughout the entire picture.
One might not recognize it, but Salt n Pepper tells two different stories. Parallel to Kalidasan’s and Maya’s story runs the plot of Manu and Meenakshi. It is their presence that adds vigor to Kalidasan’s and Maya’s life. Their presence adds some sugar to salt and pepper. It might taste weird, but is a necessity.
Somewhere through the second half, the film loses its precision in humor which it handled perfectly in the first half. A shadow of gloom ponders over the characters. However, the film escapes from falling into the ditch of boredom. The director manages to squeeze in a romantic song, a conjured up fight for the moopan (why is he there in the film? We might never know) and a bit too far-fetched narrative of a romantic archeologist. Keeping aside such minor flaws, the film never fails to entertain.
One thing that Salt n Pepper was able to do was that it gave a totally new dimension to the actors in it. We have never seen Lal in this demeanor. Swetha Menon has proved her caliber in several Malayalam movies. But her role as Maya brings her close to our hearts. Asif Ali is our boy next door. The viewers can only hope that Baburaj never gets typecast in such roles as that of Babu in this film. We can give a little bit more time for Mythili to prove her worth. Shyam Pushkaran and Dileesh nair’s script blends the rustic and the urban. Bijibal’s music is a delight. The promotional song by Avial didn’t really fit in, but who cares?
Salt n Pepper belongs to a category of films that currently propels a change in the Malayalam film industry. As for the entertainment side, it won’t make you feel that you have just lost forty rupees.