The treatment of this film is shocking as Kunjikoonan is made in what is called the ‘Mimicry-film’ style, with ample dose of comic one-liners, slapstick situations and other such ingredients. Director Sasi Shankar successfully breaks the notion that a film with handicapped protagonists has to be a weepy tearjerker.
Kunjikoonan is the story of crippled hunchbacked youth running a telephone booth in rural area. He is shown as having normal aspirations in life, including finding a good girl to marry. Kunjikoonan is an evolved character, who has developed a defence mechanism to face the society, which sometimes belittles his physical deformity. There are sequences in the film which subtly bring out the moral courage of the hero. It is evident that lot of thought has gone into developing the psychological traits of the character. At one level he is shown as possessing high-principled moral courage, and at another level he is an uncomplicated, compromising person accepting his limitations with wry sense of humour in situations which he cannot overcome. The credit for this should go to the scriptwriter Benny P. Nayarambalam, on whose play ‘Vikalanga Varsham’ this film is based.
In spite of being a commercial pot-boiler in the truest sense of the term, Kunjikoonan maintains a fine balance with realism where the characterisation of the disabled protagonist is concerned. There are no obvious deviations in character-graph of Kunjikoonan; its progression is very consistent.
The only grudge that we can have at the end of the film is that Dileep’s double role is used as a cushion against the fear of alienating his fans from the glamorous image of the star. The character of Prasad which runs parallel with the character of Kunjikoonan throughout the film; is a college student with golden hair and blue eyes, ace basketball player who can deal with a dozen baddies single-handedly. The effort to accommodate this character in the story somehow washes out the poignancy of the film.
Kunjikoonan may not turn out to be a landmark film in terms of its longevity in the memory of the audience, considering the inherent flaws at the script level. But when you see a spontaneous smile spreading on a few faces of general public coming out of the theatre when they spot a physically challenged person amongst themselves, you feel that this film is a success.
(This write-up appeared in the Indian Express a few days after the release of the film a couple of years back).