Anweshippin Kandethum Movie Review: Riveting police procedural

Anweshippin Kandethum Movie Review: Riveting police procedural

Despite a few shortcomings in developing character arcs and going too verbal at times, this Tovino-starrer makes for a gripping experience
Rating:(3.5 / 5)

There used to be a time in Malayalam cinema when police roles were considered the pinnacle for any actor who eyed at becoming a mass hero. In a bid to present these actors as larger-than-life saviours, these cop films, more often than not, ended up celebrating khaki machismo and their brutalities. But lately, there has been a considerable shift in how police tales have been presented with more focus on their lesser-known struggles and how they are just pawns in a bigger game. Unda, Salute, Nayattu, Kuttavum Shikshayum, Kannur Squad... Today's filmmakers have been cautiously portraying these policemen as ordinary men with their own virtues and vices. At the core of Anweshippin Kandethum is also a bunch of cops, all of different shades and characteristics. The protagonist Anand Narayanan (Tovino Thomas), who has just joined the force, embodies the spirit and enthusiasm of a new joinee, whereas his subordinates are either silent observers or worn out or just experienced enough to know the safe play.

Director: Darwin Kuriakose

Cast: Tovino Thomas, Pramod Veliyanad, Vineeth Thattil, Rahul Rajagopal

Anweshippin Kandethum primarily deals with two murder investigations, but completely unrelated ones. The only common link between them is the investigation team headed by Anand. Writer Jinu V Abraham, known for penning thrillers like Masters and Adam Joan, seems to have done proper homework regarding the police procedures and protocols to be followed. In the first case, we see how a sub-inspector starts an investigation from scratch and painstakingly gathers various pieces of information before zeroing in on the suspects. There's a sense of purpose in how they go about with this case, whereas in the second one, the challenges they encounter are multifold. This time around, the sleuths lack a drive, but only before they "coincidentally" land on a few leads.  With the narrative set in the late 80s and early 90s, there's only minimal technological involvement in the investigations, which makes the proceedings further thrilling.

Though it doesn't add much to the narrative, it's noticeable that the two cases are placed in totally different terrains. Cinematographer Gautham Sankar does a fine job in registering the geography as the first case happens in a lush green backdrop, while the other one is set in a dry, hilly area. Apart from the geographical contrast, there are some interesting similarities in the two cases, like how both killings are a result of honour saving. The investigations are also carried out in hostile environments. If it was because of religious and political interference in the first case, the second one faces stiff opposition from the locals who are victims of police harassment. The makers also employ the regular thriller tropes like red herrings in both cases to keep us guessing till the end. But one can't help but wish a lot of verbose narrative, particularly in the second case, was avoided to let the visuals do the talking. It is perhaps because there was just too much information to unravel, which would've further extended the runtime.

Along with his competent technical crew, debutant director Darwin Kuriakose ticks most boxes right to deliver an engaging experience. While Dileep Nath's authentic production design ensures the film looks every bit like it's set in the 90s, composer Santhosh Narayanan and editor Saiju Sreedharan ensure the thrills are never out of place. Shouldering the film, Tovino Thomas perfectly carries the body language and energy of a cop, who's new on the job.  Even when his superiors (a superb Kottayam Nazeer and Azees Nedumangad) try to cover up the investigation, Anand doesn't budge because of his conscience. You know where he gets his sincerity and dogged determination from when there's a casual mention about his father, a retired constable (played by Tovino's real dad Ellikkal Thomas).

However, only very little is shown of his three other team members—Sukumaran (Pramod Veliyanad), Khader Hasan (Rahul Rajagopal) and Chandrasenan (Vineeth Thattil). Despite having an interesting mix of actors, the film fails to utilise them properly and limits them to just being subordinates. It would've helped if these characters had more depth and personality. We'll probably get to know more of them when they return for their next case. Oops... but yes, the film's ending does hint that

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