A few days back I did get a recommendation to watch the new Malayalam film on Zee5 titled Kochaal. Now, usually I am really excited for any Malayalam film but I was surprised that this film did not have any buzz around it. I was reading about it and I did get to know that the film had earlier had a theatrical release in June but somehow I had missed its radar(I usually am well versed with movies that are out). I hadn’t even heard about it prior to the recommendation. So without knowing anything about the film I decided to watch it given the high hopes that I have from every Malayalam film(and the high bar which has been set by them). Now that I have finished watching Kochaal, here are my two cents on the same.
Story & Screenplay
Kochaal follows the story of a short heighted police constable who finds himself in the middle of a murder mystery. Will he be able to crack the case? The story here is good but not something that will absolutely blow your mind. It is a pretty generic murder investigation with plenty of twists and turns that does make for a thrilling watch. The screenplay standing at 150 minutes does make for a daunting watch and surely it could have been 10 to 15 minutes shorter in length. But the proceedings are supremely watchable due to its twists and turns that are a lot of fun to witness.
The drama does open with the introduction of the protagonist who has a short height, something for which he is often rejected. The height issue is prevalent in many males in particular. In fact in my growing up years even I had a similar issue of being short. I am average heighted but there is always a wish to have been a couple of inches taller. So I really liked the opening act here. But to my surprise, this aspect of the character was not built upon going forward until a dialogue right at the end. This was slightly disappointing for me considering that this subplot had a lot of potential.
The thing that I really liked about the film was the time spent in the character dynamics and the world building in the slow paced first hour that added a lot of texture to the drama. This was typical of a Malayalam film to start off on an unassuming note but getting to the point. This part of the screenplay did allow the audience to settle in the drama before the writing did switch gears after the murder angle that was introduced. In between, the humour is nicely sprinkled throughout the screenplay.
The investigation in the second hour was engaging but quite generic. You may blame it on some brilliant screenplays in other Malayalam films that have set the bar so high that anything less would just be classified as ‘good and engaging’. The twists and turns are interesting and engrossing however at no point was I playing the guessing game here and that was the X Factor which was missing. The final revelation also did not shock me simply because it did seem slightly convenient and abrupt although the ‘killer’ in itself was not in my radar. A slightly underwhelming act wraps up the screenplay which was good and thrilling but too generic for this genre.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are quite well penned and a few of them leave the desired impact too. The music is good, the BGM does set your heartbeat racing in a few scenes. The cinematography captures the neighbourhood with some breathtaking frames. Director Shyam Mohan does a good job in keeping the viewers engaged throughout although the direction never rises above the script at hand.
The performances here are really good by the ensemble cast. Arya Salim has her moments to shine. Talking of shine, Shine Tom Chacko is just everywhere and it was an absolute pleasure to watch him here as Pinker Babu. Chaitanya Pratap as Annamaa is first rate although her character does get limited scope. I am a fan of Murali Gopi right from the Drishyam 2 days. And he is absolutely brilliant as Simon here. With his mannerisms and a knack of finding humour at unexpected places, he was an absolute treat to watch. Krishna Sankar as Kochaal is well restraint and does a good job here making his presence felt.
Despite its generic writing, Kochaal is a good murder mystery that can be watched once. Available on Zee5.