Anweshippin Kandethum: No ‘mass appeal’ gimmicks in this neat Tovino Thomas thriller
Anweshippin Kandethum (Malayalam)(3 / 5)
One of the most crucial aspects of a crime is the era in which it unfolds. In the present, technology-led scenario, CCTV cameras, digital evidence, and many other tools of the time help criminal investigations, sometimes even correcting human errors. But imagine a timeline without any of these aids — an era when people relied on letters to contact each other, the youth read serialised novels in pulp magazines for easy entertainment, and when gossip was powerful enough for an entire village to make their judgements about women. It is in this milieu that debutant director Darwin Kuriakose places his Tovino Thomas-starrer Anweshippin Kandethum.
The title, which means ‘seek and you shall find’, is part of a Biblical verse, and it fits aptly for this procedural drama set in 1993 Kerala because, without the aid of modern technology, the success of any criminal investigation in those times heavily depended on the efforts of the police officer pursuing it. Tovino plays Sub Inspector Anand Narayanan, a sensitive rookie inspector who is pulled into the investigations of two murders in the Kottayam district that shook Kerala. His intuitive intelligence is often sidelined by higher-ups, and he is pushed to the wall to prove his mettle. This is a common premise in films of the genre, but Anweshippin Kandethum gives us enough time to unpack Anand and his team of three other similarly sidelined policemen as they try to redeem themselves.
Police procedurals often centre on a single crime or a single killer, but writer Jinu V Abraham, who is a director himself, takes us into the investigations of two separate investigations in the past and present of Anand. The two crimes have no similarities, except that the victims were both young women.
The narrative of Anweshippin Kandethum unfolds slowly as Anand manoeuvres the murder of one woman in the present under the looming shadow of another murder he handled in the past. The mood of the story’s timeline is reflected in the way it is told as well — editor Saiju Sreedharan moderates his cuts, letting the narrative come together slowly and steadily while maintaining intrigue.
It is pertinent to note that most films in this genre use sexual violence against women as a trope to shock viewers and accentuate the male lead’s heroic saviourship. But director Darwin takes a detour and anchors his film not on the crimes themselves, but on the complexities of solving crimes in an ecosystem where power, politics, and religion weigh down the morale of lower-ranking policemen. We have seen this pan out in earlier police procedurals like Mammootty’s Unda and Kannur Squad, but Anweshippin Kandethum’s SI Anand is even more subdued than his on-screen predecessors.
There are also no displays of excessive police brutality or graphic violence. At a time when films compete with each other to prove which one has more ‘mass appeal’, doing away with that sort of chest-thumping in a police procedural is a significant choice.
Tovino brings an inherent sense of honesty to his character, and though most other actors deliver their parts well, Indrans and Shammi Thilakan stand out with striking performances. Kottayam Nazeer, Baburaj, Madhupal, and Pramod Veliyanad also appear in interesting roles. Gautham Sankar’s cinematography holds everything together with a straightforwardness that goes well with the protagonist’s intentions.
A dampener for hardcore fans of the genre could be that while the narrative offers clues to solve the crimes alongside the policemen, some plot twists could have packed more into them. But for those who are patient enough to tag along with the protagonist’s quest for truth, the payoff is decent.
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.