Film review: Salt Mango Tree a family-oriented entertainer

Salt Mango Tree, directed by Rajesh Nair, exposes a crass educational system that places importance on the wealth and social status of parents as they seek school places for their children.

T P Aravindan’s role is played by Biju Menon, left, who makes a living by running a pharmacy in Salt Mango Tree. Courtesy 1000 Lights Entertainments
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Salt Mango Tree

Director: Rajesh Nair

Starring: Biju Menon, Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli, Suhasini Maniratnam, Varkichan

Three stars

I first heard the words ''salt mango tree'' in 1986 in the Malayalam film Doore Doore Oru Koodu Koottam in which actor Mohanlal, who plays the role of a schoolteacher, is asked by his students the English word for upma, a South Indian breakfast dish. Mohanlal literally translates it as ''salt mango tree''.

Three decades later and the same words are a source of comedy for Malayalam cinemagoers. And yes, poor communication skills continue to be a problem.

Salt Mango Tree, directed by Rajesh Nair, exposes a crass educational system that places importance on the wealth and social status of parents as they seek school places for their children.

The comedy is about T P Aravindan and his wife Priya and the struggles they go through to get their only son Manu into the best school in town.

Aravindan’s role is played by Biju Menon who makes a living by running a pharmacy. But his poor English language skills often land the couple in trouble. Aravindan is a simple man who finds happiness in small things. However, Priya, played by Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli, is ambitious. She can speak English and is adamant that Manu should go to the best school.

But her language skills alone won’t help her son get a school place. After the couple get rejected by several schools, they decide to go for a one-week English language training camp led by teacher Deepika, played by veteran actress Suhasini Maniratnam.

During the camp, Deepika instills hope into her students but insists that children should not be pressurised and that they must be ‘‘allowed to do what they like’’. It emerges that her own son tried to take his own life after he was discouraged from following his passion.

The film ends with Manu being admitted to a good school and it leaves us with a social message that redefines the meaning of education.

The supporting cast includes Sudheer Karamana, Indrans, Sarayu and Paris Laxmi. If you enjoy family films, then Salt Mango Tree is a good one to see.

Jthomas2@thenational.ae