4. Action Hero Biju
Abrid Shine’s Action Hero Biju is an anti-Singam or anti-Saamy police drama. There are no punch lines. No extravagant action scenes. The story just deals with day-to-day events in the life of sub-inspector Biju Paulose. Some of the cases he encounters are so petty (and inherently funny) that they break the mainstream cinematic image of police inspectors. Action Hero Biju is not a refreshing or deconstructed take on the life of police officers. It does incorporate mainstream narrative elements and falters with an erratic tone. Yet, what I liked about the film is director Shine’s attempt to showcase the police as a fellow human being rather than a fantastic hero.
Thanks to Nivin Pauly’s phenomenal performance, the film worked for me. In fact, the film was well cast. Despite the episodic nature of the narrative, there was a charm in it. But that gradually faded in the second half.
Johnpaul George’s debut feature Guppy instantly fascinates with picturesque locations of colorful streets, immaculate shores, and vibrant neighborhood people. The story tracks 12-year-old street kid Guppy’s (sells fish) confrontations with an arrogant engineer Tejus Varkey. Once again, the flaw is in the script. The subplots are far too many, which stretch the narrative (150 minute runtime), testing our patience at times. Even the final payoffs don’t make up for the heavy nature of the script. George couldn’t shake off the cutesy quality that accompanies such underdog tales. The characters’ furious stance sometimes weren’t convincing and there were quite a few unimaginative dramatic moments.
Like other Malayalam films of the year, the actors immensely saved the faltering presentation.
Srinivasan, in the grandfather’s role, gives a captivating performance alongside child artists, led by Chethan’s Guppy. A decent entertainer, Guppy is dampened by a mediocre script.
2. Anuraga Karikkin Vellam
Khalid Rahman’s feel-good entertainer Anuraga Karikkin Vellam offers some good moments which force us to reflect on our lives. It’s the tale of a father, mother and a son with a cold-war like familial situation. The narrative observes the transformative phase experienced by the family. Biju Menon’s scene-stealing performance is the foremost reason to watch the film.
Rajisha Vijayan had a good scope to perform, unlike in roles usually offered to heroines. And, she delivers an energetic debut performance.
The script gives a tiring sit-com feeling, including a cliched romance. Yet, some of the observations of simple moments are well done. It has the distinct Malayalam brand of a positively infectious charm, hard to replicate by other industries in Indian cinema.
Rahman has good control over the visuals and tries his best to sustain the mood. Despite the cliches, I was satisfied with his sweet depiction of the middle-class family’s life.
1. Maheshinte Prathikaaram
Dileesh Pothan’s film opens in a bewitching location in Kerela. Idukki. The locale was a big draw for me to watch this family entertainer. So, ‘visually appealing’ might seem like a vanilla description. Maheshinte Prathikaram (aka The Revenge of Mahesh) is a bit unconventional revenge film with an unexpected dose of sweet humor. Fahadh Faasil elegantly plays Mahesh Bhavana, a photographer, who owns a small studio in the town. He is a naïve individual with no great talent. Couple of events alter Mahesh’s life. How he overcomes his life’s predicaments is the core of the narrative. Aparna Balamurali and Anusree give scintillating performances.
KL Antony and Soubin Shahir (fascinating comic timing) deserve a special mention. Pothan does a good job as a debut director. He nicely guides the narrative through comedy, romance and drama. The second half is remarkable and well balanced. Maheshinte Prathikaaram is not a perfect film. But it’s a good, sugary entertainer, that makes us await in anticipation for Pothan’s next film.
Where to Watch: Netflix
By Arun Kumar