Nayattu is yet another addition to the growing list of Malayalam films where the script is the hero. It is a thriller but not the edge of the seat variety but more of a slow burn, engaging type. Nayattu which means “the hunt” in Malayalam is of course about a hunt but, with a role reversal. There is not one but three protagonists – a middle aged and tough on the exterior man, an angry young man and a young lady who is from a vulnerable back ground. All of them are low level cops in a police station in Kerala. In an unfortunate twist of events they get entangled in a situation because of which they are on the run and hence hunted by who else, but by their own colleagues.
The film opens with very disparate events and scenes that take us through the personal backgrounds of these three characters. These scenes seem frivolous but miss them and you miss the context of a lot of things that happen later. So, in a way this is another Drishyam style story telling. The film’s director – Martin Prakkat’s last outing was “Charlie”, a fantasy/fairy tale type romantic and emotional film while in this he switches to a totally different genre where is there is no romance (well almost) and no fantasy. That he is able to make this switch and tell the story so effectively speaks of the calibre of the director as an effective story teller. Of course the writing by Shahi Kabir comes as a strong ally.
Coming to the writing which is of top notch, the film is a telling and brutal commentary on the “police system” as it exists in India today. It is as much as how politics is intertwined in every aspect of policing. How false cases can be foisted at ease, how narrative of the cases can be changed easily by the police at their own behest or of their political masters and also how the same weapons come to haunt the police themselves – are all part of the story. In fact, the film brings out how every level of the police from the junior most inspector to the senior most DGP gets the rough end of the same system so well, that you also pity the profession.
Joju George, who plays the senior of the three protagonists is no Mammootty or Mohanlal in terms of screen presence or fan base. But, his acting skills are no less in this film. Watching his body language when he is a “Dabangg” cop in the initial scenes and a victim of sorts at the end is a fine lesson for aspiring actors. Nimisha Sajayan is on a roll these days. As the vulnerable junior cop, she brings in the insecurity bit very well. At the end, she is the one who is seen to be showing the inner strength while Joju’s character which is supposedly tough, ends up being weak. The writing shines here as well. Another actor who shines is Yama Gilgamesh, who I am seeing for the first time. As the SP on the hunt of the three cops, she is brilliant. Kunjacko Boban as the other cop also does a fine job so is Jaffar Idukki who plays the Chief Minister.
Shyju’s camera captures Munnar in its beauty but it is the city “location scenes” in the first half that confirm his stature as a master cinematographer. We saw that in the other recent film “Joji” as well.
Overall, Nayattu is quite an engaging film. The end is open ended a bit which could be disappointing to a few as it was for me. I would still put this on “must watch” category for the realism it portrays and for the story telling.