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Direction: Fazil

Cast: Mammootty, Mohanlal, Juhi Chawla, Baby Shamilee, Haneefa, Nedumudi Venu, Innocent

Just having Malayalam superstars Mammootty and Mohanlal together in the same movie is cause enough for celebration. Not just superstars, they are among the best actors in the country, having collected more than half a dozen national awards between them. Add to this a director with the enviable track record of Fazil and it is not wrong to expect something exceptional from their collaboration. But at that level, Harikrishnans turns out to be a disappointment. While the mixture of murder and romance works at places, overall, it is average entertainment at best.

The movie generated controversy in Kerala where it was released with three different endings. In one Mammootty gets Juhi. In the second, Mohanlal gets together with her while in the third, neither of them get the girl. It was claimed that the selection of areas where the first two endings were shown had a religious connotation since Mammootty was a Muslim and Mohanlal was a Hindu. This forced the filmmakers to pick one ending(Mohanlal and Juhi marrying) throughout the state.

Meera(Juhi Chawla) becomes friends with Kumar Raja while travelling to her hometown of Ponnoor and when he is murdered, the blame falls on Gabriel, a deaf and mute recluse. Ammulu(Baby Shamilee), is Gabriel's friend and she enlists the help of her brother Hari(Mammootty) to clear his name. Hari and Krishna(Mohanlal) are the Harikrishnans, successful advocates heading an all-India network of lawyers. When they start investigating, they initially supect Meera to be involved but once she is cleared, they both fall in love with her. It turns out Kumar was the heir of the Kalliyoor Jamin and this trail leads them to Kumar's griefstricken father(Nedumudi Venu). While fighting to impress Meera, Hari and Krishna work together to solve the murder.

The movie starts off with a rather distasteful scene where Shamilee is interrogated in court about her relationship with Gabriel. When Fazil's plan seems to be to craft a light-hearted entertainer, I'm not sure what his rationale was to insert this unpleasant scene.

The movie then alternates between Mammootty and Mohanlal romancing Juhi and solving the case. The romancing puts them in the role of clowns trying to put each other down in front of Juhi. There are some funny scenes like the scene where they spill coffee and later, when they ingest the food prepared by her with great difficulty, without any criticism. Their expressive faces, especially Mohanlal's, make these scenes lot of fun. The good-naturedness of the actors comes to the fore in the scene when they criticise the looks of each other. The words in this scene ring true with Mohanlal pointing out Mammootty's odd walk and Mammootty teasing Lal about his girth.

There are some neat twists in the story of the murder. Though it is obvious who the villain is the moment the character shows up, the path leading to him has enough turns turns to keep the viewer hooked. For example, the fate of Mohini Verma came as a definite surprise to me. But there is a surprising lack of detective work by Mammootty and Mohanlal. Many of their findings come from leaps of intuition and we are left wondering about how exactly they came up with the conclusion. The scene where they finally nab the culprit has been picturised effectively with the shot alternating between a procession and the villainous deed.

The two actors are efficient during different portions of the movie. While Mohanlal has a definite edge during the clowning around portions, Mammootty is more effective during the serious scenes. Mammootty has dubbed in tamil while S.P.Balasubramaniam's voice works just fine for Mohanlal. The closeness between the dialogs in Tamil and the original Malayalam allows the lines and the actors' lips to be not too out of sync. Juhi just has to look pretty and she does that very well indeed.

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