Nayattu movie review: When the hunter becomes the hunted

OTT Reviews

When an all-powerful system hunts you, you don’t have a choice. All you can do is just to dance to the tunes of the powers that be. Nayattu, the latest Malayalam movie that has just been released on Netflix after a theatre premiere, throws light on the fallibility and feebleness of individuals when they are pitted against the system. A system that is doomed to dance to the whims and fancies of politicians for its own gains. Script writer Shahi Kabir, himself a cop, does a neat job with a neat script with director Martin Prakkat giving a realistic touch to the movie.

The film revolves around three cops: Maniyan (Joju George), Praveen Michael (Kunchacko Boban) and Sunitha (Nimisha Sajayan). Maniyan, an assistant sub-inspector, is your average middle-class guy; his life mission is to see his daughter win at the state-level art fest. Praveen and Sunitha similarly lead their own ordinary lives.

The trio lands in trouble following a showdown with the followers of a Dalit outfit at the police station. What follows is a late-night road accident, when the jeep carrying the three cops accidentally hits the Dalit youth who was part of the gang that caused the ruckus at the police station. He dies in the accident. The needle of suspicion points towards the three cops with the ruling government coming under pressure from the Dalit outfit in the face of a byelection. In such a situation, the trio has no other option but to flee. 

The chase thus begins: between an all-powerful police force and three helpless cops armed with nothing but a steely determination to prove their innocence. The trio manages to reach the hilly Munnar, where Maniyan finds a safe hideout, thanks to an old acquaintance there.

When you are up against a system, whose entrenched clout and formidable reach are far superior than that of three insignificant cops, it is virtually impossible for you to play hide-and-seek for long, unless of course you are a superhero. The fate was written all over, though the film keeps the audience on the edge on many occasions. The best part of the film is that even just before the end you expect a twist.

However, the film leaves some questions. When was the last time you saw someone getting released from a police station after a major scuffle with the cops inside the station? When was the last time you saw someone making a statement like “we do not bow down any more sir, it is a thing of the past” to police inside the police station?

We have seen super heroes wearing police uniforms in larger-than-life roles in Bharath Chandran IPS and Balram. They are capable of pulling off some miracles, truly in filmy style, as we have seen in many movies. However, Action Hero Biju was all about the real life of police, and it has one famous statement – “Samson, what did you understand. If a police officer is hell-bent on serving justice, no money or influence can save you.”

We have seen in movies, and in real life too, how police go about charging cases. In such cases, leaving a person who creates ruckus in police station, without even taking a medical test is a blunder, or say it is beyond realism, if that is what this move is all about.

Leave that aside, when was the last time you saw a Dalit party winning a bargaining with a chief minister, when he is up against a by-election (not an assembly election)? The film leaves many such questions about dragging the Dalit politics into this. However, cinema experience is different for each individual; you can leave such questions aside so that we can enjoy this engaging movie.

Let us come back to the film. When the chase begins, they don’t have any idea about where they are heading. The trio, consisting an ASI and the two constables, are at their wit’s end to find a solution. All they could do is remain elusive until they could prove their innocence or waiting for the obvious: that is to be captured.

Though it is a hunt, even those hunters are turning out to be mere victims in the end. The Crime Branch is just a pawn in the hands of the higher authority; higher officials are dancing to the tunes of politicians. The film leaves a question: who is the victim and who is not?

Joju is at its best when he expresses the emotions. Kunchako is well within the character, and so is Yama Gilgamesh who brilliantly plays the role of police commissioner. Nimisha Sajayan, as expected, also did her best with her acting prowess. But, has she been typecast with gloomy characters? When we get to her smiling?

Jaffar Idukki, as a crooked and tough chief minister, appears as a misfit in his role. He is good at donning the garb of a sidekick or in supporting roles, but not in this role.

If the primary purpose of a movie is to entertain and enthrall the audience with its engrossing movie experience. Nayattu exactly does that with consummate ease.

Watch it on Netflix.

(Anoop Raghav is a Mumbai-based journalist-turned-digital-political strategist. He is an avid film buff. When he is not strategizing, he loves to watch movies.)