Most Probably, Veteran Padmarajan would be the one who introduced stylish flourishes of serial killer genre to Malayalam Cinema, In the Joshiy directed Ee Thanutha Veluppan Kalathu. The revitalisation was done by Jeethu Joseph in his Memories. And it still remains the best neo crime based film in Malayalam. The reason is that Jeethu wasn’t interested in cheap thrills or insensitive grammar, it was the personal trauma of central protagonist which hooked me. Further, in the recent times after a long gap Haneef Adeni uses the genre in it’s typical state. His The Great Father has build-up that is terrifically crafted but the final acts are tampered by bland screenwriting. Now, Anjaam Pathiraa is Malayalam Cinema’s recent attempt in the genre.
We have a criminologist Dr.Anwar Husain (A subdued Kunjacko Boban) who’s part of the police force as the consultant for investigations. The opening scenes sets up three important personal subplots of Anwar. Firstly, his passionate obsession towards entering the psyches of convicted criminals. Anwar interrogates a ripper played by Indrans, reminding the terrific Mindhunter of David Fincher. The second is his profession as a psychological counselor and third comes Family consisting of his wife (Ramya Nambeeshan) and school-going daughter. With this opening sequence Director Midhun Manuel Thomas makes up a feeling that we are into a very intimate tragedy. But incidentally Anjaam Pathiraa is not, even if it pretends to be. It is about random killings that pops up in the city one night. A serial killer is berserk, targeting random Police officers. And the case is Anwar Husain’s first field experience. There is anxiety of the protagonist to crack this case, but the intimate clutches of making it personal to him is not solid.
Midhun’s writing has an irreverence towards its protagonist on a subconscious level. This might be the imbalance of refraining to project Anwar Hussain as a superhuman. He is not hyper intelligent. He is projected as a vulnerable human, just one among every other Police officer who’s attached to the case. The team consists of Unnimaya Prasad, Divya Gopinath as the policewomen and Jinu Joseph, Abhiram Radhakrishnan as policemen.
The major failure of Midhun Manuel Thomas as a director is explicit in the first half of Anjaam Pathiraa. It gets into the murky space of a typical serial killer film. Back-to-back killings, protagonist claiming the presence of a serial killer (this part must supposed to be a fascinating revelation, but it’s done as a silly revelation on hindsight. At a point when we are only one down!), We get a comical hacker youngster (Sreenath Bhasi) who is persuaded by the police officers to work for them finding the killer, we get graphic portrayal of dead bodies incised with patterns and yeah the recent trend – gift boxes packed to horrify women (as well as the spectator). Midhun only tries to give perverse thrills and jump scares with the accompanying of an obstreperous and mostly irritating background score of Sushin Shyam. The instances of preyings are shoddily written. When a cop moves aside for instigating into private affairs, we are persuaded for a preying session. A good filmmaker could have crafted this with genuine thrills and chills. But Midhun’s effort is to only elevate every scene with the support of his music director, cinematographer and editor, not by magnificence in staging.
But the most interesting part was the pattern of killings and the afterthought backstory of antagonist which is revealed in the second half. This is where interesting developments happen. The mystery unveils in a way that you won’t expect it to. Even the opted method of serial killing has reason that’s cerebral. Anjaam Pathiraa bares an important conscience of Parallel justice and encounter killings.
The thing with this film unlike other psycho-thriller’s is that the antagonist is not your conventional psychopath or an absolute demon a.k.a Ratsasan. There is no demonizing of mental illness. Even he says one line, I’m not your typical psycho killer. He is the victim of a faltered judiciary system. The writer also makes us empathize with the villain. The scenes did remind me of Maayanadhi. It is very relevant in the contemporary scenario, debate on justice denied and police brutality, Take the recent hyderabad encounter killings and look at how people made a celebration out of it. But Midhun here too fails to layer the screenplay as well-rounded. The final act at climax totally lands as a regressive note. A great premise is let down completely.
The blessing in disguise for Anjaam Paathira is cinematographer Shyju Khalid who instigates a dark narrative with overtones of green, yellow and red. Editor Saiju Sreedharan does a fine job in maintaining a taut narrative. Sushin’s background score works are absolutely messy and noisy. Only actor who shook me with his devastatingly affecting performance was Jaffer Idukki. Kunjacko Boban was effortless but Unnimaya Prasad’s performance was sluggish and over affecting. All said and done, Anjaam Pathiraa is a partly dismissive and party okayish serial killer thriller punctuated by a terrific conscience that is blemished will fully at the end. Filmmakers should seriously start thinking above perversive thrills, jump scares and overpowered background scores to thrill the audience. And what is this obsession with serial killings? On the same topic, At Least do something like Mindhunter that’s more meditative than peripheral.