Film: Anjaam Pathiraa
Director: Midhun Manuel Thomas
Cast: Kunchacko Boban, Jinu Joseph, Sreenath Bhasi, Unnimaya Prasad, Indran
Stars: 3.5 out of 5
Malayalam thriller ‘Anjaam Pathiraa’ is a neat procedural thriller that takes you into the complicated world of serial killers and their murky motives. It’s a macabre tale that’s high on thrills and unexpected twists.
Director and screenplay writer Midhun Manuel Thomas sets the tone of the film from the word go. In the opening scene, psychologist Anwar, played brilliantly by Kunchacko Boban, steps into jail to study a notorious serial killer Ripper Ravi to understand his thirst for blood.
Comedian Indran is sinister in his short role as an unassuming man who finds ‘ecstasy’ in cracking someone’s skull open and bludgeoning them to death. The movie isn’t about him, but his cold demeanour efficiently gives you an idea of the texture and syntax of this film. It isn’t emotional and gives you a clinical re-counting of how Kochi city is terrorised by an unknown serial killer on the prowl for policemen.
Cinematographer Shyju Khalid does a good job of building a chilly atmosphere where apathetic policemen are killed by a man in a wolf mask. His signatures include culling the heart and eyes out, along with planting a bronze statue of a lady dispensing justice.
Boban, who is one of Malayalam’s most underrated actors, plays Anwar Hussain, a psychologist and aspiring criminologist who is unofficially included in the investigative team put together to track down the technological wizard and serial killer.
His assured and sensitive performance is one of the highlights of the film. ‘Anjaam Pathiraa’ — which means fifth midnight — symbolises the possible body count of law enforcement officers being targeted. The build-up to the killings is genuinely frightening and keeps you invested. While the first half is devoid of melodrama, the second half goes to reveal the background and motives behind the criminal acts.
ACP Anil Madhavan, played with a mixture of sophistication and wry humour by Jinu Jospeph, is a treat to watch. Sreenath Bhasi as a nerdy hacker who unwillingly extends his expertise to the police force is spot on.
However, it’s a testestorone-charged thriller that pretends to give women empowering roles. The operative phrase here is ‘pretend’ because the women characters in this film have no agency of any kind. For instance, Deputy Commissioner Of Police Catherine (Unnimaya Prasad) is a senior ranking officer, but she seems forever frazzled and lost. The scenes in which she seeks an amateur criminologist’s expertise is far-fetched and seems contrived. Actress Remya Nambeesan as Anwar’s smart wife is relegated to mouthing inane pearls of wisdom.
But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a thriller that is cerebral and sensible. While the movie would have benefited from a tighter edit, the dark thriller keeps you hooked.
There are attempts to humanise the serial killer with a strong back story about why he turns into a devious criminal hankering for human organs. It works in parts, but not as a whole. Precious minutes are wasted in giving us a detailed account of why he resorted to murder and mutilation. But rest assured, the serial killer hunt gives you sufficient closure.
Watch this for a string of superlative performances and a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Don’t miss it!
‘Anjaam Pathiraa’ is out now in the UAE. Watch the trailer below: