Kanmadam presents a not so unique story of two wayward friends Viswanathan (portrayed by Mohanlal) and Johnykutty (Lal). Shunned by the society and purportedly ignored by the dear ones, they had no option but to live on the edge of legal and moral boundaries, despite the fortitude to overcome both.
In a routine lawless night on the streets of Bombay, due to an unfortunate twist of fate, Johnykutty ends up killing Damodaran, the quintessential jobless graduate who was stood up by fraudulent elements of the society on a promise of escape to some oil rich gulf country in search of greener pastures. Upon learning more about Damodaran's life, Viswanathan, in search of a new beginning for his on life, comes down to a small rustic village near Palakkad where Damu's aged grand parents and sisters live in abject poverty.
Over time, Viswanathan is attracted to the 2nd of the 3 sisters, Bhanu (portrayed skillfully by a then 20 year old Manju Warrier), who relishes in being the victim of the familial situation, society and the sheer helplessness of what the life has to offer. The more amorous Johnykutty follows Viswanathan to his secret abode in Kerala and the rest of the movie is essentially the friends discovering the depth of their relationship through a series of confusing, albeit thought provoking activities. The movie ends with the friends deciding the marry 2 of the sisters of Damu, thereby settling down in the village.
Producer Mohanlal, who is also donning the role of the protagonist is not as stellar as some of his other roles during the early years. Not having watched any of the early movies of Lal so far, he is refreshingly natural and had an innate guile in portraying the pimp turned do-gooder. Manju Warrier carries the angst of the character on her childish face and does a fairly decent job. Perhaps deliberately as the character warrants, she is able to show the glimmer of artificiality and discomfort in her scenes with Viswanathan barring one. She absolutely stole the show in one frame where Viswam asks Bhanu as to whether she likes him or hate him by portraying a multitude of emotions in a couple of seconds.
Despite watching the movie for the first time almost 16 years after its original theatrical release, this was probably worth the nearly 3 hrs of work for the eyes. The music from the movie has stood the test of time. For someone who has done an incredible number of hits in Aabheri, Moovanthi Thaazhvarayil from this movie must be one of Raveendran's best compositions.