Palunku is a 2006 Malayalam-language drama film written and directed by Blessy. It stars Mammootty in the lead role with Baby Nazriya Nazim, Lakshmi Sharma, Baby Nivedita and Jagathy Sreekumar playing other pivotal roles. Lakshmi Sharma made her debut as an actress with this film. The film exposes the trappings of consumerism and how city life changes the perspective and priorities of an ordinary farmer portrayed by Mammootty.
The film was mainly shot at various locations in Muvattupuzha and Thodupuzha. It released on 22 December 2006 to critical acclaim. The film was noted for its relevant plot, the performances of the lead actors and the directional excellence of Blessy. However, it was a hit at the Kerala box office. Mammootty won the Best Actor Award at the annual Kerala Film Critics Awards for the portrayal of Monichan, a down-to-earth farmer driven to the verge of suicide by the loan sharks.
Palunku tells the story of an industrious farmer Monichan and his family, which consists of his wife Susamma, and his daughters Geethu and Neethu, whom he lovingly calls 'Ponnu' and 'Kilunthu'. Monichan is happy with his life as a farmer and loves his family, his profession, nature and the people around him.
At a juncture in his life, he is forced to take his daughters to a school in the town, simply because the school in his village cannot accommodate his elder daughter, who is in fifth standard, as there are not enough students to run classes. Thus Geethu and Neethu join an English medium school. Monichan brings the children to school every morning and hangs around in town till evening to take them back.
In the course of this routine, Monichan gets close to Soman Pillai, a shrewd lottery agent, who knows all kinds of short-cuts to earn money. Soman Pillai becomes Monichan's advisor. Monichan buys a bicycle and the father and the daughters now travel to town and back on the bicycle. In the meantime Monichan joins a class conducted for elders and starts learning to read and write Malayalam as well as English. A minor accident makes Monichan shift over to the town along with his family.
Once in town, Monichan finds himself entrapped in a vicious circle. He, with the help of Soman Pillai, begins to tread down the wrong path - lending out money, and doing things not entirely above board. His life changes slowly. He is no longer the naive farmer he used to be. Even his wife has changed, spending her time watching soap operas on TV and dreaming about modern household amenities. But fate has something else in store for them. They lose someone close to them
The film received overwhelming positive critical reviews. The performances of lead actor Mammootty, Baby Nazriya Nazim and the directional excellence of Blessy got exceptional response from both the audience as well as critics. The film did well at many award functions. Mammootty was awarded the Best Actor award at the precious Kerala Film Critics Award.
A review by The Hindu said, "Palunku is a commendable attempt at portraying the changing attitude of the modern Malayali through the story of a small family of a husband, wife and two children. The family succumbs to the temptations of a modern lifestyle and gets down to making money. The movie realistically depicts how the craze for modernity and consumerist culture affects family values."