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Kooman

Farhad Dalal
By-
Farhad Dalal
Rating
4 Star popcorn reviewss

Introduction

Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Malayalam film Kooman which is streaming on Amazon Prime. Now I wasn’t prepared for the OTT release of this film given how low key it was. It was only after it was out last night that I did happened to come across it while skimming through content. And come to terms that I really wished to watch this film right from the time it had a theatrical release. The Irony!

One of the reasons why I was looking forward to watching this film was because Kooman is directed by Jeethu Joseph who has previously helmed iconic thrillers like Memories and is the brain behind the Drishyam franchise. And so everytime he comes up with a new thriller, I am quite excited. To top it, the film did release some glowing reviews and that did peak my excitement levels. Now that I have finally finished watching Kooman, here are my two cents on the film.

Story & Screenplay

Kooman is one of those stories that you need to know very little about before venturing into the film. And this is because of the route that it takes simply from the point of view of constructing a thriller. It is unassuming but supremely rewarding. The screenplay standing at 150 minutes means that it is slightly on the longer side. However, if you are aware of Jeethu Joseph’s filmography and his manner of constructing a thriller then you will know that this length is justified!

The drama is a slow burn and requires a good amount of patience to sink your teeth in it. This is a typical Jeethu Joseph narrative wherein the world building does take its fair share of time. So the focus is on the protagonist who is a cop having a sharp mind and an even bigger ego. He finds himself in the middle of a village on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border where a series of unrelated crimes do take place. These are written so half-heartedly and deliberately so, that these seem like passing events. The politics surrounding the area is nicely tapped upon and tactfully linked to the main plot.

Things slowly begin to gather steam after an incident that dabbles with the ego of the protagonist wherein he starts committing crimes himself in a game of one-upmanship. However, there are Easter eggs in store in the second hour, something that you do associate with a Jeethu Joseph film. A massive twist at the halfway mark changes the complexion of the thriller which then begins to head in a different direction. Some of the passing references in the first hour are cleverly used as foreshadowing.

But the true genius of the filmmaker lies in the tonal shift that takes place towards the end. It is here that I saw a filmmaker successfully breaking a conventional mold of a mystery thriller. So while the ongoing investigation is interesting in itself, the seamless tonal shift leads up to a shocking revelation in the final act that will remind you of the Kannada film Vikrant Rona in its tonality. But the difference between Vikrant Rona and Kooman is that the former was mounted on top of a folklore from the very beginning, while Kooman has a tonal shift that may have been a risky proposition to begin with, yet the effectiveness with which it is done makes for an engrossing and awe-inspiring watch. In other words, the drama breaks the mold of a conventional thriller in many ways with a touch of folklore.

Dialogues, Music & Direction

The dialogues are conversational but even the lines have an interesting tonal shift towards the end that makes for a brilliant watch. The music here is good but the BGM is absolutely spitting fire in so many scenes. It is electrifying and uplifts the mood of the drama at so many crucial junctures. The cinematography is outstanding and does its bit in capturing some wonderful frames. Director Jeethu Joseph does it again and adds another feather to his thriller supremacy! His direction is rather unassuming wherein you do get a sense as to where the drama is headed particularly in the first hour. But he has this knack of catching you off guard and sweeping you off your feet. And Kooman is no different. His direction is exceptional here.

Performances

The performances are really good here although I did feel that the characterization of the rest of the cast is not as powerful as that of the protagonist. Deepak Parambol as Suresh and Baiju as Thampi have their moments to shine. Renji Panicker as CI Pillai is first rate. Hannah Reji Koshy as Lakshmi is brilliant to watch. Jaffer Idukki as Maniyan is endearing and sincere. But it is Asif Ali as CPO Giri who is absolutely prolific in his role. We get to see two distinct shades to his character, one revengeful and the other calculative and cerebral. If this film is like two films(or perhaps three) clubbed into one, Asif gets ample of scope to showcase his acting prowess and he delivers with a bang!

Conclusion

Kooman is another testimony to Jeethu Joseph and his ability to construct unassuming thrillers! Available on Amazon Prime and Highly Recommended!

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