Kraya Vikraya Prakriya Series Review: Krishand's quirky, hilarious take on private eyes
As in Aavasavyooham, we once again see the filmmaker's proclivity for touching upon ecological and land-related issues without sounding preachy
The characters in Kraya Vikraya Prakriya (KVP) encounter some perilous situations, but you get the sense that they also enjoy it. They seem so confident about getting through whatever situation gets thrown at them. It reminded me of Tom and Jerry or the Looney Tunes cartoons, where the main characters always come out unscathed no matter how many missiles and dynamites are hurled at them. I'm not saying that such explosive, over-the-top scenarios occur in Kraya Vikraya Prakriya (KVP); I bring up the above titles to convey the level of playfulness they had. But the most striking quality towering above everything else in the series is a strong noir flavour. More on that later.
Cast: Zhinz Shan, Pooja Mohanraj, Rahul Rajagopal, Sreenath Babu, Archana Suresh
Streaming on: YouTube
Anyone familiar with Krishand's Aavasayooham saw a filmmaker essentially making a genre piece -- a monster movie combined with pitch-black satire, in addition to a few other genres -- in the backdrop of the pandemic. One also cracked up at the numerous instances where characters emerged victorious or made a fool out of themselves. In both cases, confidence is an essential factor. In KVP, also set during the pandemic, the confident man is a 'real estate investigator' (or 'broker' in certain instances). You could also say he is a sort of 'confidence man', given some of his hidden talents revealed later. But this character, Hanif (Zhinz Shan, from Aavasavyooham), is an amalgamation of the various private detectives we have seen in books and cinema -- shady and otherwise.
As he did with the monster genre in Aavasayooham, Krishand reimagines the private eye through Hanif in KVP, which is closer, in terms of mood and treatment, to the Coen bros' The Big Lebowski than any of the serious-minded Philip Marlowe adaptations. But when it comes to the network of characters it introduces to collide, directly or indirectly, with Hanif, its spirit is very much akin to the above stories.
Ideally, in detective fiction, a person would ask a private eye to find someone or dig up some dirt on a rival. In KVP, Hanif aims to seek details related to a piece of land for a woman looking to buy it. Meanwhile, there is the small business of precious stones that somehow came into Hanif's possession -- the explanation comes in the later episodes -- and which the seemingly 'benevolent' investigator transfers to an aspiring filmmaker to fund his new movie. We meet more characters soon: two smugglers, the filmmaker's girlfriend, her shady ex-boyfriend, and a group of gangsters... in addition to two allies of Hanif, one a photographer, the other a techie.
Krishand gives all these characters enough situations to extract at least one witty line from each one, particularly when the unpleasant backgrounds of Hanif and others get involved. The comedy in KVP, sandwiched between layers of informative real-estate jargon, is exceptional! One hilarious standout situation involves the gangsters torturing a man who, much to their surprise and chagrin, turns the tables on them. To see this man toying with them while moving like a mermaid in a swimming pool had me rolling on the floor.
The full title of the series reads Kraya Vikraya Prakriya: People in Transactions. It is indeed about a series of transactions and negotiations and every absurd situation that happens in between. What started as a simple, generic episode slowly morphs into a narrative sufficiently rich with details: an intriguing, binge-worthy series comprising episodes with durations ranging from 15-20 mins. The minimalist visual style -- by Krishand and Aavasavyooham cinematographer Vishnu Prabhakar -- keeps the subjects more in focus than the background, opting for negative spaces and unusual close-ups in dicey situations, and yet giving a clear sense of the geography these characters navigate in. Occasionally, the images assume a dreamy, disorienting texture.
And as in Aavasavyooham, we once again see Krishand's proclivity for touching upon ecological and land-related issues -- without sounding preachy -- while slyly linking the impact of some recent events (*cough* gold smuggling *cough*) with those in the narrative. Rahul Rajagopal, the leading man of Aavasavyooham, appears as a gangster who gets to have several amusing moments along with another Aavasavyooham alum, Sreenath Babu, as his right-hand man. All these factors effectively ensure that KVP rises above the usual timepass fare. Interestingly, KVP is streaming on filmmaker Midhun Manuel Thomas' YouTube channel Nerambokku, which translates to 'time pass'.