Director Jeethu Joseph once again throws a googly, presenting a darker, unexpected side of the protagonist and creating another enjoyable thriller, albeit with a few problems in the end.

Asif Ali sits against a yellow wall, weeping
Flix Review Friday, November 04, 2022 - 15:43
Worth a watch

Asif Ali in a police uniform is easy to get used to, perhaps because he was just seen in one in Kuttavum Shikshayum, Rajeev Ravi’s last. In Kooman, he is already on screen in the first scene, wearing a civil police officer’s uniform, smoking, walking into a scene of crime where a robbery had occurred. Solving it in minutes, he establishes himself as a smart police officer, but it is too early to put him in that bracket of the crime-solving good-natured ones of popular police stories. Director Jeethu Joseph once again throws a googly, presenting a darker, unexpected side of the protagonist and creating another enjoyable thriller. Kooman however eventually loses the grip it has in the earlier half, and seems to go into a bit of chaos towards the end, packing in convoluted explainers and a problematic resolution.

KR Krishnakumar, the scriptwriter, has given an interesting character arc to Asif Ali’s Giri. You can spot early signs of his upcoming problems in the way he harbours a grudge and gets his revenge through underhanded means. Not your idealistic moral policeman, this. When someone who made an insulting remark to Giri gets into trouble, he would show them his best face, promise them help, then go into the police station and ask to file cases against them. Asif Ali is just wonderful as the vengeful man playing the people around him, revealing his varied emotions before his beloved senior officer, played by Ranji Panicker. Baburaj, playing the officer replacing Ranji, is not the same.

While Giri’s need to avenge the many insults, big and small, takes him to risky territories, another series of crimes occurs in the small town. The unnamed town, much like in Jeethu’s Drishyam, has a tea shop where the major happenings are discussed, and scorns exchanged. Asif Ali, Deepak Parambol, and Baiju with a sidekick all play frequent visitors of the place. It is slightly nostalgic the way local news is debated over cups of tea at the teashop benches.

The women who are in the picture appear for very short durations. One is Pauly Wilson, playing the typical old mother, complaining about the son who wouldn’t marry. Hannah Reji Koshy plays a young woman in the neighbourhood whom Giri appears to have an interest in, but their conversations are mostly formal, ending with sweet smiles. In that way, Krishnakumar appears to pay tributes to an older time, when romance was carried out in small exchanges and the memories of it lingering long. That and the teashop and the minimal use of new age gadgets like mobile phones (except to click some pictures) give the film a 90’s-ish air.

Watch: Trailer of the film

The night too plays a very big role in the film, which explains the title (meaning owl). And Jaffer Idukki gives a memorable performance as a person of the night.

The first half of the film, with a peppy song (music by Vishnu Syam) to accompany Giri’s misadventures, ends smoothly, leaving you gasping for what’s next to come. The following half, however, loses direction in its attempt to incorporate a story around superstition, which is surprisingly akin to certain real life incidents of recent weeks. But the movie would have been written way before, and therefore appears like a harbinger of bad times.

A foray into mental health problems and a problematic portrayal of a queer character appear like quick mends to a wavering script. Kooman, otherwise, is a very interesting watch.

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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