There is no heroic entrance or fancy background music when Kunchacko Boban drives a car to the jail and asks to see a prisoner, who is to be hanged the following week. The titles of the film roll unobtrusively by as he heads inside and interviews a hardened criminal, played by Indrans, a man who tells him that he has no mental health issues, and that what he felt when he killed 14 people was a mental high, an ecstasy.
Kunchacko, who plays Anwar Husain, a criminologist helping the police, talks to a senior officer he knows personally, to let him be a part of murder investigations. He has a moment in the car with his wife (Remya Nambeesan) and little daughter. All of this, as the opening credits continue to roll by. The film has set its pace. It is going to be tight, every moment passing by is important.
Midhun Manuel Thomas’s Anjaam Pathira is an admirably packed fast-paced thriller, with some arresting performances and more than one true-story references.
Having established that the film is not going to waste time – neither for a song nor for a line too many, you witness the first murder happen. A policeman strolls casually by a street somewhere in Kochi after a game of cards in the night. The power goes off, a van lights up, a masked figure gets out, shocking the cop. Another says hello and the scene is cut off. The policeman’s body is found the next day, brutally murdered, heart and eyes plucked out but with no other signs of struggle.
Anwar Husain is called into the case by his police friend, Anil, played by Jinu Joseph. Unni Maya plays Catherine who leads the investigation. The exchanges between the police are at times artificial, noticeably so since the film keeps you glued to every word and action. But then, the performances make up for it – Unni Maya untypically playing a serious character not easily entertained, Jinu’s slow-paced but natural and sometimes funny dialogue delivery, and Kunchacko’s obsessed, anxious expressions. Sreenath Bhasi too plays an important role, a young hacker typically glued to computers and apps, and offended when another hacker could outsmart him.
The film predictably follows a series of murders that follows. It is all of policemen. Caught and killed in the same manner. All the killer leaves is a customised sculpture of Lady Justice, without a blindfold and with the features of a Malayali woman.
More than the whodunnit, it is the psychology behind the case that keeps you worried, as it keeps the hero worried. The method, the way there is no struggle, the reason, there is a lot for a psychologist to dig deep. The plot is neatly arranged for you, taking you from one step to the other, without dragging for a minute longer than needed. The editing, which had seemed jumpy in the beginning with the scenes cutting from jail to car to someone’s home later, fixes itself to go easy on the eye. Sushin Syam’s music is only noticeable when you want to notice it, not distracting you otherwise.
Also impressive is the casting of Unni Maya and Divya Gopinath as policewomen. There is no noise made about it, no lines referring to the gender of the team lead, and the police head even fires Catherine the same way he’d fire any junior – idiot, do something soon. None of the ‘you can’t handle it you are a woman’ lines you dread.
The film ends just the way it starts, with no time to lose, with the hurried footsteps of a woman, making it a clean sealing. Midhun’s written and directed such a neatly-packed brow-raising thriller that you can brush off the little flaws of a few poor lines or few jumpy scene changes.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.