Director Khalid Rahman, who won hearts on his debut with ‘Anuraga Karikkin Vellam’, returns with his sophomore film ‘Unda’ (Bullet).
Loaded with good humour, ‘Unda’ fires shots at the Indian political system and its police department, while entertaining with its slice-of-life moments.
‘Unda’ showcases what happens when a contingent of Kerala policemen are deployed to Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh — a Maoist-dominated area — to assist the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) during election time.
Mammootty has played several policeman roles, but his Sub-Inspector Manikandan in ‘Unda’ is an antithesis to all the earlier characters. Mani, the leader of the unit, is more real and isn’t burdened with a larger-than-life image.
Mani and his group of policemen set out on the assignment with pride and with the expectation of a picnic outing, but they confront a different reality at Chattisgarh. They soon realise how ill-equipped they are, with few bullets and poor safety gear, to tackle a Maoist ambush.
From their polling booth located in the wilderness of Bastar, with mines waiting to be tread upon, ensuring a fair election is no easy task. Despite serving the police force, many of them had never handled a rifle or even fired one. Mani, who gives instructions to his subordinates on how to shoot, confesses that he has never tracked a thief or caught a murderer.
Khalid Rahman and co-writer Harshad deserves applause for this film that has no romantic moments. Yet, ‘Unda’ touches your heart while exploring personal stories through its characters. Jojo (Shine Tom Chacko) is a domineering team leader, whose wife has filed for a divorce; Girish (Arjun Ashokan) is missing his wedding preparations being planned back home; Biju (Lukman), a first generation policeman from a tribal background, is the butt of jokes. We also learn a bit about Mani’s family — his wife is played by Tamil actress Easwari Rao in a cameo.
‘Unda’ brings back the Mammootty we have always admired. It’s sheer delight watching the veteran in full form — Mani’s concern for his juniors; his sympathy for the villager Kunalchand (Omkar Das Manipuri of ‘Peepli Live); his apology to his subordinates for not rising to the occasion during the Maoist attack one night, make Mani endearing.
Another pleasure was watching director Ranjith in a brief role. With his spontaneous performance he leaves a mark.
‘Unda’ raises the question — who is the real threat to a fair election?
Don’t dodge this ‘Unda.’
Don’t miss it!
‘Unda’ releases in the UAE on June 19.