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Nayattu movie review: A raw take on the Indian political circus

The Malayalam-language film is now streaming on Netflix.

KERALA: At a time when police highhandedness, use of excessive force and collusion between lawmakers and lawkeepers has come under scrutiny in the US, India and other parts of the world, Malayalam political thriller Nayattu enters the fray with a story in which the ''hunter becomes the hunted''. It also examines the twin themes of truth and justice and how these notions get twisted by the powers that be to suit their interests.

The film, whose title means ‘the hunt’, stars Joju George, Kunchakko Boban, Nimisha Sajayan, Jaffar Idukki, and Yama Gilgamesh in the lead roles. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Martin Prakkat, Nayattu is now streaming on Netflix.

Political agenda serves justice

The film revolves around three police officers, Maniyan (Joju George), Praveen Michael (Kunchakko Boban), and Sunitha (Nimisha Sajayan). The movie begins at a point where Michael, a civil police officer, is assigned to the local police station, where he befriends Maniyan, the assistant sub inspector, and Sunitha, a woman police officer. 

It is the election season in Kerala, and political parties in the state are fully focused on consolidating their voter base. Governance has taken a back seat in the heat of the electoral race, and even the chief minister is compelled to agree to the demands put forward by low-ranking cadres. At this point, Maniyan, Michael, and Sunitha get involved in a hit-and-run case, where the victim is a youngster who belongs to a political outfit that has ties with the ruling dispensation. An unexpected turn of events makes the trio the suspects of a murder case, and they soon escape from the station until the election wraps up. 

Thus, a game of cat and mouse begins. The police start searching for the trio, who feel like they’ve sunk into a nightmare where they’re being investigated and hunted by their colleagues. The rest of the story deals with politics, survival, and how the state machinery can stifle justice from prevailing in society. 

Several critics have been quick to pan how the movie’s climax tapers offs into an abrupt ending. However, this reviewer would like to highlight this open ending as one of the biggest strengths of Nayattu; it poses pointed questions to people who live in a society where police officers often turn into pawns of the ruling party. 

Flawed policemen in a broken system

The initial moments of the movie show ASI Maniyan manipulating a case where a young man is being framed for alleged trespass and murder attempt. With these scenes, the director tries to convey how the affluent class in the society is making use of police officers to manipulate the judicial system in the country. However, when police officers turn victims, they become prey of their colleagues, who have nothing much to do apart from obeying the orders from the top. 

Nayattu: A movie made with international standards

Nayattu is blessed with some spellbinding performances from its lead actors. Joju George excels in the role of ASI Maniyan, who tries hard to manage his personal and professional life. Kunchakko Boban, who is often labeled as a chocolate hero in the industry, proves yet again that he is an actor with unexplored mettle. He truly brings alive Praveen Michael, and deserves a special round of applause for this effort. For a brilliant actress like Nimisha Sajayan, the role of Sunitha was a cakewalk. 

The script is penned by Shahi Kabir, who has previously written the screenplay for the acclaimed blockbuster Joseph. Being a police officer in real life, Kabir's detailing has played a crucial role in elevating the overall mood of the film. Shyju Khalid's cinematography and Mahesh Narayanan's slick editing were also top-notch. 

Final verdict: Nayattu is a take on contemporary Kerala politics where caste plays a crucial role in determining the prevalence of justice in society. Coming against the backdrop of the just concluded assembly polls, the film is sure to put the recent political events in the state into perspective. The film humanises policemen and gives a deep dive into the people and psyche beneath the khaki uniform – vulnerable, flawed and fallible, just like the rest of us.

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