This Vishu in Kerala seems to be the period of reloading powerful characters from the past in Malayalam cinema. A few days ago, we had the kind-hearted goon, Sagar Alias Jacky resurfacing. Now, we have the four loveable rascals from In Harihar Nagar re-visiting us in 2 Harihar Nagar (sic).
Being the first independent venture of Lal as writer-director, he does not try anything new as far as moulding the story or the use of technology goes [which is a good sign proving that he is confident of his stuff]. It is purely in the mould of a mimicry film, incessant laughter till the interval, a suspenseful break and then the serious stuff.
The story too is not much different from the original. In the original, four bachelors tried to woo a beauty who had come into their neighbourhood, which led to commotion, action and suspense in the second half of the film. Here in the new version, Lal keeps the story and the mould the same. The only difference is that the protagonists have grown older [but not necessarily wiser]. Still, it works mainly because it is rooted to the original, and the makers have taken care to make us nostalgic by showing us the snippets of the first part when the credits roll in.
2 Harihar Nagar, begins with the establishment of friendship between the four leads in their school days [a stamp of Siddique-Lal school of filmmaking from Kabuliwalla onwards]. Next, a voiceover [Lal's baritone] tells us about the progress our beloved rascals have made in life since we last met them.
So, Govindankutty with an abbreviated Goku (Siddique) as his name has become a successful builder, married but still childless. His justification; there is still romance in his life. So, children can wait.
Mahadevan (Mukesh) has become a successful new age guru, giving pep talk to school kids in the Gulf. His love life on the other hand is another matter as he is separated from his wife. Appukuttan (Jagadeesh) is a dentist with twin boys. The last one in the group, Thomaskutty (Asokan) is kissing bachelorhood goodbye as he is going to marry shortly.
It is Thomaskutty's betrothal and wedding for which the four reunite in Harihar Nagar and try to reignite the youthful mischief for a few days, which they had missed after being separated from each other.
The premise works well in the first half. The second half becomes a little tedious after the initial gung-ho feeling passes. The climax gives an overdone feel with no sign of culmination in sight. This is just a small hitch considering the overall impact of the film.
The main reason 2 Harihar Nagar works is because the performance of the foursome that Lal is able to extract, giving us a sense of deja vu. Some people may complain that this film lacks substance. But, who really cares as long as it is enjoyable.