Rajisha Vijayan plays a cyber security expert in ‘Keedam’, which is directed by Rahul Riji Nair.

Rajeesha in a black shirt and glasses stares at her mobile phoneScreenshot from the film
Flix Review Saturday, May 21, 2022 - 12:40

It is almost like a teacher’s piercing glare, the background music of Keedam. Pulls you right back in, the minute your attention wanes. So, you keep your eyes wide open when a murder happens on the road, when you follow the criminals to their daily haunt – a scrap shop. Not exactly a whodunit, this. And when Rajisha Vijayan, who plays your heroine, takes slow strides on the screen, it is a pleasant change for your eyes, exposed to years of Suresh Gopi’s slow walks. Keedam has quite a few novelties and tries to explore the lesser tapped area of cyber security, but Rahul Riji Nair, a director known for his close to life portrayals, largely strays away from that comfort zone and does not carry it off well.

The film drives straight to the point – the endless bullying a woman can face once her phone number is leaked. However, the victim Radhika (played by Rajisha), has the advantage of working in this area – her company deals with cyber security, and she helps the police. 

Rajisha has strived to look, act, and talk like nothing she’s done before, not ready to be bracketed into a type. She is in smart casuals, comfortable in her shirts and trousers and a high ponytail, glued to a laptop for work. Director Rahul plays her partner in running a startup. He is a nice surprise, serving a bit of comedy, not calling undue attention to himself. Then there are the villains, so well-written that they leave you seething with anger. Kili Biju, especially, is the creepiest kind of stalker you can imagine, a pervert bullying random women from one blocked number after another. Actor Mahesh Nair plays him so well you easily place yourself in Radhika’s shoes and fear the worst. Anand Manmadhan, playing the fellow stalker egging him on, is just as good. Renjit Shekar and Manikandan are the more cinematic villains, rough in their deeds and words.

Watch: Trailer of the film

An unfortunate irony occurs with the entry of Vijay Babu, an actor and producer, who in real life is accused of sexual abuse by a young Malayalam actor, and for whom the Kerala police is on the lookout. In Keedam, he plays a police official and has lines that could be applied to his own real-life situation. Lines like, “They are on the run, but not for long.” In real life, Vijay had revealed the name of the survivor actor on social media, admitting that he knew naming her was against the law while doing so. Aptly, Keedam’s script has him saying, “You know the seriousness of your confession” and “some sensitive data has gone out”. To add to it, Radhika tells another character in the film who is named Vijay: “Vijay, this is illegal, we can get arrested for it.”

But for the unfortunate casting, the film tries hard to uncover the perils of stalking and hacking. After trying the system – going to the police, filing cases – and finding it does nothing to stop her torture, Radhika begins to retaliate on her own, having to compromise on the ethics she had earlier preached about. Her argument, when confronted by the loving father (an admirably mature Sreenivasan), is that these men should not bully another woman. The sentiment is relatable, in light of the Me Too movement, and touches on the debate around due process and its viability for survivors. However, Keedam does not dwell much on it and positions Radhika as a sole warrior, in the vein of hero centric films – a cinematic choice which doesn’t really work for conviction.

Even though all the elements are there – a good cast, convincing villains, a setting that fits – the filmmaking falls inadequate. Perhaps in an attempt to make his films more mainstream, Rahul tries too hard – the unfitting background music being one of the poor choices – and does not quite reach there. Unconvincing plot lines (like an overly cooperative police force), unimpressive dialogue writing (often preachy and wannabe), tiring old techniques like exaggerated stunts and last-minute escapes pull down an otherwise appreciable attempt.

It might have done better had Rahul stuck to familiar territory, letting the story lead the way and not rely on the gimmicks.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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