Edakkad Battalion 06 Movie Review: A bland, underdeveloped tribute
A half-complete tribute for army men that makes you wonder if it is actually an army recruitment video disguised as a movie
There is nothing wrong with paying tribute to soldiers and there is nothing wrong in making a film to inspire the audience to join the army. But when you're aiming to entertain and engage the audience for two hours, you need a smooth narrative that can take up the challenge. It's a good thing that the makers kept the film's runtime a little under two hours because it feels thin as it is.
Granted, Tovino Thomas looks and sounds like a well-trained, well-disciplined, and brave army officer. He is a natural fit for the part of Captain Shafeek, who is home for a brief vacation. When he tells a group of school students that joining the army is not necessarily the only way to serve one's country, you are deceived that the film is trying to echo the same thoughts, but by the end, you might wonder if this is actually an army recruitment video disguised as a movie.
Director: Swapnesh K Nair
Cast: Tovino Thomas, Samyuktha Menon, P Balachandran, Shalu Rahim
Shafeek's unpleasant encounter with a group of antisocials peddling drugs to youngsters forms a crucial part of the narrative. It threatens to ruin his relationship with Naina (Samyuktha Menon), a teacher at the school for the specially-abled. But some of the conflicts are resolved before they even begin; others are simply ignored. There is no doubt that Tovino and Samyuktha share good on-screen chemistry, but unlike in Theevandi, where the depth of their love was quite convincing, the bonding in Edakkad Battalion is not intense enough to make us care. Remember how Mani Ratnam developed the Arvind Swamy-Madhu relationship in Roja? I know it would be too much to aim for that benchmark but something closer would've been much better.
The promise of an emotionally stirring family drama in the first half isn't delivered once the second half arrives. There is Shafeek's insecure and volatile father (P Balachandran, also the scriptwriter) who wanted his son to be a biryani cook instead of putting his life in peril for the country. Theirs is a complicated bond. You see, this could've been a good father-son story too considering how we also get a small parallel sub-plot involving a middle-aged police officer (Sudheesh) and his wayward son (Shalu Rahim in a small variation of his performance from another Tovino film, Maradona). But these strands are tied up too quickly as well.
I must admit though that the presence of these antisocials in the background does generate a significant amount of tension. But barring two notably tense moments in the first half — a daring rescue operation (involving fire) and a fight scene (involving water) — Edakkad Battalion fails to make us feel anything. And certain writing decisions towards the film's latter portions may have seemed revolutionary on paper but without strong emotional layering and execution to back it up, the results are simply bland.
This is a film that dreams of a world where people reform instantly without bothering to show us how. In a country where therapy and rehabilitation are largely frowned upon, it would've been nice to see the film take a little bit of effort to explore those avenues instead of taking the easy way out. Since we are already dealing with characters who are good samaritans, why not go that extra mile instead of suggesting that a good thrashing might do the job. It might, but it's not the only way.