Evidey Movie Review: A mystery overshadowed by its actors
Perhaps this story would have been more ideal for a 20-minute short film than a two-hour feature
KK Rajeev's second film Evidey has a solidly rendered mystery at its core: the disappearance of an eccentric but charismatic singer named Symphony Zachariah (Manoj K Jayan). He is the husband of Jessy (Asha Sharath) and father of their son (Shebin Benson). But concealed beneath this mystery veneer is a serious social cause. However, I'm not so sure if it was delivered with the same impact the makers had hoped for.
Director: KK Rajeev
Cast: Asha Sharath, Shebin Benson, Prem Prakash, Baiju Santosh
Do we have to care about the missing man to be interested in the story? Not necessarily. We get a fairly clear picture of Zachariah through the anecdotes told by other characters. He is a known face in the few cultural clubs for which he occasionally sings. He is not into technology — his preferred mode of long-distance communication is letters. When the letters stop coming, a complaint is lodged. Just minutes before the intermission, new information comes to light. Why was no address given in his last letter?
The film's primary strength is the actors, who keep us engaged through their skillfully staged dynamics. After a while, their performances begin to overshadow the story. It's a delight to watch everyone play mind games with each other. Asha leads the pack, as the distraught, angry and frustrated woman trying to deal with not just the void left by her man but also the distasteful gossip about her husband being circulated around town. I've always seen Asha as an underappreciated actor. Evidey, along with last year's Bhayanakam, are testaments to her range. One particular moment inside a hostel involving her, Shebin, and Prem is a terrific tutorial on how to build nail-biting tension.
Strongly backing her are Prem Prakash as Kuttichan, her father-in-law; Baiju Santosh as the intimidating but sensible police officer; Suraj Venjaramoodu as a sympathetic cab driver who accompanies Kuttichan and Jessy in their search. These characters are all neatly sketched and have interesting backstories. Shebin Benson is very effective as a troubled adolescent. We witness in the film the captivating acting methods of two different generations. This is especially noticed in the use of sound — sync sound for the younger actors and dubbing for the seniors.
Perhaps this story would have been more ideal for a 20-minute short film than a two-hour feature. But then how many people would watch a short film these days, especially if the same actors didn't participate in it? A full-length feature film affords a larger platform, sure, but if the same film isn't promoted adequately, would the intended message reach many people? For a film that has the names of Bobby and Sanjay attached, I was surprised to learn about its existence only a week before its release.
When the final twist — not too remarkable, I'm afraid — is put aside, Evidey ultimately becomes a dysfunctional family drama. It is about mothers and fathers who made the wrong choices and their children struggling to deal with the burden of the consequences. Though it's a joy to watch the actors give their best, one wishes the film's treatment were much more refined.