Kerala Crime Files(Season 1)
Onto the final release of the weekend and I finished watching Kerala Crime Files, Malayalam Film Industry’s first forray into the webseries space on a major OTT(streaming on Hotstar). By now, we all are aware on what the Malayalam film industry is capable of in terms of churning out quality content. They continue to remain unfazed with the Box Office numbers, and in the process, continue to churn out gems after gems.
One of my most difficult tasks from last year was to prepare the top films from Malayalam cinema. There were almost 50 names and I had such a tough task to bring it down to 30. My point here is that if the filmmakers have already taken the theatrical performance of their films out of the equation, and instead just focused on making films, God knows what would be achieved in the webseries space. There wouldn’t be any added pressure of Box Office numbers, and the Malayalam filmmakers could literally run havoc(a model seen in the Hindi space too that did serve some outstanding content on OTT). Keeping this in mind, I was super excited to watch my first Malayalam webseries ever! So then does Kerala Crime Files manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Kerala Crime Files follows the investigation behind the murder of a s*x worker wherein the police continue to hit multiple dead ends. Will they be able to nab the culprit. The story here may not be too novel but it is a gripping police procedural from start to finish. The story also sheds light on the plight of the cops and the sacrifices that they have to make in their personal lives. The screenplay standing at 6 episodes of 20 odd to 30 odd minutes each is such a brisk watch that you will end up binge watching the drama that is gripping and compelling in equal measures!
The drama has an interesting setup featuring a man who is going about his regular duties at the hotel only to discover a body in one of the rooms. The writers do well in introducing rain as an element of turmoil in the drama. Soon, you are introduced to the main players of the arena who kick-off an investigation which seems simple to begin with, but it does start to get on their nerves. Now the interesting part of the premise is that the writers take out the time factor out of the equation. This basically means that the cops do not have pressure from the higher authorities to solve the case in a certain spsn of time. Instead, the onus is on the cops to set the pace of the narrative which was a very fresh take for me. This lead to no distractions and needless deviations from the central plot, and the focus was always on nabbing the culprit.
The proceedings are interesting and engrossing with the turn of events, and the twists and turns which are engaging. The organic flow of the drama in determining clues, and with one thing leading to another, did make for such an exciting watch. The characters are so well defined here and the subplots addressing the personal lives of the principal characters is marked by a sense of a satire. This does showcase the plight of the cops and the amount of sacrifices that they make. But every now and then, the writers cleverly infuse a streak of dark humour that just cuts the tension enough to put a smile on your face. This was an important move, given how intense the drama is otherwise, meeting multiple dead ends.
I did get a feeling momentarily that the drama was slightly lagging in the final two episodes and going slightly around in circles. But the baggage and foundation of the drama was so strong that you would tend to overlook this minor flaw. The cat and mouse was interesting leading up to the grand reveal which wasn’t so much about the person or the reason anymore when you look at the journey holistically. Yes, you could argue that the end was slightly abrupt but taking nothing away from the overall journey which was a gripping and thrilling ride from a writing stand point!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are conversational but immensely engaging and make for a solid impact. The music is good, the BGM is excellent as well. The cinematography captures some lovely aerial shots along with shots of gore, aesthetically. The editing is crisp and the scene transitions are fast and smooth. Director Ahmmed Khabeer, the man behind excellent films like June and Madhuram, is in such fine form here. He manages to engage the audience with the investigation in a drama that is just so focused with its storytelling.
The performances are outstanding here. The actor who played the main culprit is pretty intimidating too(keeping his name and identity under wraps to avoid spoilers). Eika Dev and Nikita Therese Mathew have their moments to shine. Ashwathy Manoharan as Athira is first rate in an overall job done well. Harisankar as Sarath is simply excellent adding bouts of subtle humour in his performance. Devaki Rajendran as Lathika is such a fine performer, and she makes a lasting impact here despite a limited screen time. Rooth P John as Swapna has a magnetic screen presence and she was terrific to witness particularly towards the end.
Navas Vallinkkunnu as CPO Sunil is sincere, earnest and quite a pleasant personality onscreen. Sanju Sanchien as CPO Vinu has a towering personality and does quite a brilliant job here. Zhinz Shan as CPO Pradeep is fabulous to watch in a character with a streak of humour too. Lal as CI Kurian is brilliant as ever in a very assertive performance. I was happiest to watch Aju Varghese transition in such a serious role here. As SI Manoj, he is excellent with his mannerisms and he does bring out the smaller nuances in his character just so well.
Kerala Crime Files is a gripping police procedural drama that makes for a thrilling watch. Needless to say, the Malayalam Film Industry is off to a flier in the webseries space! Available on Hotstar and Highly Recommended!