The true power of the pen lies in spilling ink on every character with full integrity. Screenwriter Jinu Abraham gives us a sprawling canvas of characters who populate the plot set in two places in the Kottayam district of Kerala.

Anweshippin Kandethum, Tovino Thomas Headlines A Taut, Gripping Police Procedural 888408

Rating: ****

Starring Tovino Thomas, Pramod Veliyanad, Vineeth Thattil, Rahul Rajagopal

Directed by Darwin Kuriakose

This a thriller that doesn’t set out to thrill. Which makes it all the empowered .Debutant director Darwin Kuriakose(is this really his first film?!) doesn’t try to hijack our attention. Anweshippin Kandethum(which means, seek and you will find the truth) is too engrossed in telling its story as it is, to care whether we are there to stare.

If still, we remain riveted from the first frame to last, it is due mainly to the power of the narrative and the sharply drawn characters who leave a haunting impact even in the smallest of roles. For example, there is streetside shop vendor who is witness to one of the two murders in the plot.He is barely there for 3-4 minutes. But we remember him till the end.

The true power of the pen lies in spilling ink on every character with full integrity. Screenwriter Jinu Abraham gives us a sprawling canvas of characters who populate the plot set in two places in the Kottayam district of Kerala.

This is Kerala in the 1980 and 90s. The periodicity is pungent without resorting to obvious props. Even in the way Tovino wears his watch there is a certain nostalgia.And that sketch of Amitabh Bachchan in a teashop…such a subtle hint of the pervasive power of superstardom.

Tovino Thomas is getting there. He is pitch-perfect as a cop who won’t be cowed down by corrupt forces. He is as coiled and angry as Amitabh Bachchan in Zanjeer, but far more heroic in the absence of super powers.He knows he can neither beat the system nor take on ten adversaries at the same time.

But the dialogues could have been more in keeping with the times. Actor Siddiqui who plays Tovino’s superior starts a sentence with ‘Anyways’ which is this millennium coinage.

Am I quibbling for the lack of genuine faults? Probably. Anweshippin Kandethum is pretty much a fat-free sinewy mellow drama with hardly an irrelevant moment. From Tovino Thomas’s introduction as the brooding suspended cop Anand Narayan , the screenplay is a tightly coiled compendium of images that speak to us and yet give away nothing.

The plot unravels with a reined-in grace in Chingavanam and Cheruvally. Anand Narayanan is assigned to investigate the murder of two young women from the two places in Kerala,Lovely and Sreedevi . While all the performances are unquestionably unselfconscious, a special word for Pramod Veliyanad (Suku), Rahul Rajagopal(Kabeer) and Vineeth Thattil(Sena) who play Tovino’s team mates. Also, the actor who plays the murdered girl Lovely’s father,is outstanding.

The absence of fireworks in the story, the braked bravado, should not be seen as signs of weakness in Anweshippin Kandethum: the narrative is confident without being selfaware.

I did find some loose plotting in the second murder investigation. In one sequence Anand breaks into the Panchayat President’shome in Cheruvally and bullies him into submission: very 1990s’ Rajinikanth.Maybe that’s what it is meant to be.

Also the twist at the end , whereby the murderer is revealed to be someone unexpected, was unnecessary.The strength of Anweshippin Kandethum lies in telling the truth without the help of the tropes that titillate viewers in whodunits. If Agatha Christie ever visited Kerala in the 1990s she would have known what Anweshippin Kandethum does: there is more to murder than meets the eye.

About The Author
Subhash K Jha

Subhash K. Jha is a veteran Indian film critic, journalist based in Patna, Bihar. He is currently film critic with leading daily The Times of India, Firstpost, Deccan chronicle and DNA News, besides TV channels Zee News and News18 India.