The weekend is finally here and so are the new releases although this weekend is a quieter one as compared to the last one. But nevertheless, we will be covering a bunch of new releases so do stay tuned. First up, I decided to watch and review the new Malayalam film Heaven streaming on Hotstar. When it comes to Malaualam thrillers, a few names which pop up instantly are Drishyam and Drishyam 2 which started off in an unassuming manner only to catch you completely off guard in the final act. The bar for thrillers in general is quite high, leave alone the ones from the Malayalam film Industry that even the middling thrillers would not be spared. This is probably more to do with the overkill of the genre wherein every second film these days is a thriller. So there is a bit of redundancy which is lurking around the corner. Having said that, I was backing Heaven mostly because of my love for Malayalam films which do have a certain quality to them. That said does Heaven deliver, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Heaven follows the story of a cop who gets involved in the investigation involving the murder of his son. From the face of it, the story might not seem too novel considering the fact that it is a standard template for a thriller. But the layered screenplay comes to the film’s rescue and wonderfully so. The screenplay at just over 2 hours makes for an intriguing watch straight up.
The drama unfolds almost in the form of foreshadowing. So very early on in the film, there is a charred body discovered which sets the ball rolling for the investigation. But the screenplay being layered, does not focus on the investigation at hand and instead takes you to an elongated flashback involving the series of incidents leading up to the current day situation.
As a part of the flashback, you are introduced to the protagonist who is considerate, yet would often go out of the way to investigate his cases. As a part of the world building you are also introduced to his family until the tragedy strikes. The drama at this point almost reminds you of the Hindi film Badlapur in terms of its setup. Infact, I did enjoy that the writers did not reveal most of his cards early on. It all contributed to a thriller which was layered and most definitely had that element of mystery to it.
The buildup in the drama seems organic where one clue leads you to another thus forming an intriguing and engrossing investigative thriller. To keep your expectations in check, this isn’t a whodunnit as there is no “grand reveal” here. This is more of a thriller filled with twists and turns which is well worth your time. The events leading up to the culprit and the reason provided are really interesting. But the final act most definitely reminded me of Drishyam 2 which is not necessary a bad thing but it definitely seemed rushed to me. It almost gave me an impression that that the writers almost wanted to get the drama done with and so it seemed slightly haphazard too. But overall, the screenplay is layered thus making it a compelling thriller.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational and adequate here. The music and BGM are fairly good although I did feel that the BGM specifically could have been better. The cinematography is pretty good too. The editing was sharp and one reason why I was thoroughly invested in the drama. Director Unni Govindraj does a splendid job in constantly keeping you engaged through his layered storytelling. This was a standard thriller but despite that it was engrossing and one of the main reasons was the direction which just did not drop guard right throughout.
The performances are really good here. Sudev Nair as Bejoy and Jaffer Idukki(he is just everywhere isn’t he?) as Stephen shine in their respective roles. Reshmi Boban is first rate. Abhija Shivakala is well restrained and does a splendid job. Alencier Ley Lopez as Pillai is fabulous to watch. Deepak Parambol is absolutely terrific with his stoic looks and calm demeanor. His performance is excellent here. Suraj Venjaramoodu is understated and beautifully so. He is that one actor who can convey his emotions through his eyes and the vulnerability which he brings to the table is just excellent to witness.
Heaven is a compelling thriller which will keep you engaged throughout. Available on Hotstar.