CIA: This tale, from an untrodden turf, is a fine attempt
Cast : Dulquer Salman, Siddique, Karthika Muralidharan
Amal Neerad’s Comrade in America (CIA) has three potent props: the Communist ideology, first love and self-discovery. And it traverses multiple terrains (quite literally) fuelled by them.
While it has a steady political stance, CIA is neither overtly preachy about Communism nor does it glorify romance, but urges you to hold on to your ideals and bask in whatever joy it gives.
Brilliantly portrayed by Dulquer Salman, Aji Mathew is a staunch Communist, the quintessential hot-blooded comrade. He lives by his principles and is the perfect do-gooder. So, when he finds his lady love Sarah (newbie Karthika Muralidharan) snatched away from him and taken to the US, he decides to get her back. Aji chooses the most dangerous of the ways, only to experience some harsh life-shattering realities.
However, Amal’s sketch of Aji is nothing new. An ideologue fighting injustice has always been a staple, but trust Dulquer to infuse a certain freshness to it. He fits so well into the garb of an angry young man and, with the same ease, switches into lover-boy mode.
Overall, Dulquer is your perfect mass hero and Amal spends the first half mainly on establishing it, of course with a punchy background music, courtesy Gopi Sunder. To keep his fans happy, there are quite a lot of hard-hitting dialogues and a fight to keep the show going.
Amal, definitely, has his politics but he keeps it at bay. No lengthy discourse on ideology threaten to take your attention away, but there is enough sarcasm, clear hints and the message is driven home. At no point does it gets didactic. But, the real ‘politics’ happens post-interval. What the second half offers is unprecedented. He takes us from a little town of Pala to the much larger and scarier terrain; that of the extremely perilous Mexican-American border. What Amal discusses here is the politics of life, death and dreams.
For a change, the picturesque visuals of Mexico aren’t exactly ‘dream-like’ stuff. Though they do indeed look breath-taking, the life we see in it is rigid, harsh and reeks of death. This may well be the first time that Malayalam cinema ventures into these hitherto-untrodden plains.
While Siddique shares a smooth camaraderie with his onscreen son Dulquer, Karthika looks good. Within a limited screen space, she gives life to Sara. Soubin Shahir and Dileesh Pothan are at their comic best.
But, it’s the director’s control over his craft that makes CIA an engaging watch, though a bit unrealistic at times. Amal manoeuvres his work through a tough terrain, and comes up with a winner. The CIA can, undoubtedly, be your weekend watch.