My first CBI movie! Which I am aware is not actually the “first” CBI movie. But it is the first CBI movie that einthusan has with subtitles, so I wanted to jump on it before it went away. I couldn’t believe how dark it got, with the motivations and plot twists, but at the same time how clear and sensible the tone was, it never got bogged down in emotions.
It pains me on a deep deep level to jump into the middle of a series. On the other hand, I have learned that if you don’t watch an einthusan movie right away, it may go away never to be seen again. And this is a series that came highly recommended, so I decided to just leap in with both feet and try to find my way as I went.
(I also skipped right to Main Khiladi Tu Anari, but that’s not really a “series”, right?)
So, if I am understanding this correctly, there were a fair number of characters who carried over from the previous film. Not just our hero Mammootty, but a couple of witnesses. And the incompetent police who flub the investigation leading to Mammootty being called in.
I kind of like that, I always find it remarkably unbelievable when you have this kind of a series that takes place in a limited area and the detective called in never happens to run across the same people again. I love in the American Law & Order how the occasional judge, lawyer, and other detective will recur along with our regular leads. And on the other hand, old friends and distant relatives of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot keep popping up all over England, with hardly any overlaps with previous old friends and distant relatives.
I also really like the film industry setting for the plot. It could have served to make this film more “glamorous”, but instead it kind of de-glammed it. It felt very much like the filmmakers are just showing the everyday occurrences in their lives, with all the boring nitty-gritty that only people who live it really know about.
(Also why I love the film part of Kandukonden Kandukonden. If feels like the practical sensible option, rather than the crazy ambition of computer tech or financial wizardry)
Is the structure the same in every film? Where the whole first hour is just getting to know the pre-murder situation, and then the initial failed investigation before Mammootty is called in? As someone watching their very first CBI film, I found this so confusing! I understood the bit where we get to know the future victim and all the forces swirling around her, that’s standard for a murder plot. But then we spend so long on the initial investigation, and it seemed to be going so well, I kind of figured that was it. That maybe Mammootty wasn’t in this one or something, because he didn’t seem to be needed.
But I guess it’s not that the initial cops were super stupid, but that they were corruptible? If I was following this correctly, they came close to the answer, but then backed out because they were paid off and threatened by those in power. They reason I put a question mark on this is because they film kind of brushed by this point. My guess is that, if these same cop characters were in the original film, then their corruption was already established for the audience so there was no need to really underline it here.
On the other hand, what I found really fascinating and was very sorry that I missed the deeper meaning of, is that apparently one of the corrupt cops suffered a tragedy in the previous film, and it served to make him un-corrupt and turn him into an informer for Mammootty on the other group. That is so rare in these kinds of recurring detective stories! Whether you are talking TV miniseries or film or book. Sure, there is the corrupt cop who redeems himself in the end. But you never see him come back in the next book/film/episode to continue his journey to redemption.
Here’s another thing I found interesting. The best characters in the film are the victim and the detective. I really appreciated that, to make the act of violence about the victim no the perpetrator. And to set up a strange sort of matching between the one who died and the one investigating her death. Not that it was a point hit terribly hard, but there was a small sense of Mammootty taking up and continuing her crusade for justice and truth. And here’s the thing I honestly couldn’t tell and I need you in the comments who have seen all the films to help me with. But after the SPOILER bit. So, SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER
Is the murderer a returning character as well? It felt like Mammootty knew him before, but I didn’t know if that was just invented for this film, or if it was picking up on a previous film? If it was picking up on a previous film, that would make it a little less out of left field.
I can’t decide if the randomness of the solution is my most or least favorite part of the film. It’s my most favorite, because I kind of like it that everyone was assuming Parvathy was murdered because of something she did, some choice she made for herself. That, for most of the movie, she was less a “victim” than an actor in her own life (well, her life in flashback, before she died). And then it turns out that nothing she did mattered at all, and she was killed for things completely out of her own control.
(Oh, and I know Parvathy! She was the village love in Thoovanathumbikal)
But it’s my least favorite because we just spent two hours talking about things that end up NOT MATTERING AT ALL!!!! All those characters, all those clues, all that police questioning, COMPLETELY POINTLESS!!! It’s just a glorious buffet of red herrings. Interesting red herrings, sure, but still pointless!
Let’s go through them, shall we? We open by seeing Parvathy, a movie star, meeting with the editor of a film magazine and agreeing to give him her next column soon, and talking about her last column, in which she called out a major male star for driving his pregnant girlfriend to suicide. And this is the first time we hear rumors that she might be going after a major former politician in her next column.
She goes to work and meets her fiance, a producer, and he promises that his family is coming around to their engagement, and it doesn’t matter anyway, he will marry her no matter what. Then she goes on location, to stay at the same hotel with the rest of the film crew. This is where I think we meet returning characters, the producer feels like someone who maybe we are supposed to laugh in recognition when we see him. Or maybe he is just a familiar character actor? I feel kind of guilty for being so at a loss with late 80s-early 90s Malayalam film stuff, but on the other hand, no subtitles! I would watch them all if, they were just released in a way that would let me follow them. There are also more murmurs about her column, both the last one which lead to a broken engagement for the superstar, and the next one, which everyone is afraid of.
Through out this section, we get this great look at the film industry, from the fan magazine journalists always out for a scandal, and working closely with the major stars at the same time, to the stressed out producers worrying about time and cost on set, to the calm stars, effortlessly charming the producers, the journalists, and everyone else. Oh, and we get some hints about the connections between politics and film in how worried everyone is about the next column.
And then Parvathy is killed. And, really cleverly, the audience is always one step ahead of everyone else on this mystery. We see her body being discovered by the killer hired by the superstar. He is stunned to see her already dead, then goes back to the hotel to lie to the superstar that he is the one who killed her, and get the payment. Everyone, except the killer and the audience, thinks he did it and the superstar is ultimately culpable.
Which is also what the police think. Like I said, I was confused by this bit. Because they figure it out pretty quick, using dogs to track back from the murder room to the other hotel where the superstar was staying, and correctly identifying the superstar as the one who most have hired the killer. So, why call in Mammootty? These guys are doing a pretty good job! If it weren’t for the coincidence of someone else killing her first, they would have solved the Parvathy murder!
Only, what I didn’t get, is that they are totally bribable, and therefore are promptly paid off to look the other way and call it a suicide after all. Which is where Mammootty comes in, tasked with first solving the cover-up, and then the actual murder. It’s a clever structure, so long as you don’t get bogged down by thinking too much about how none of the investigation matters one bit until the last half hour!
While Mammootty is talking to people, learning that the politician used to be a film producer, had raped Revathy, then killed her writer friend who tried to bring the truth to light, and Revathy fought back by condemning him in public, the real important stuff is all forensic and circumstantial. They learn that Revathy never wore saris didn’t even have one in her room. So to fake the suicide, someone would have had to go to the all night sari store in the bus station and buy one and bring it back (really? There’s an all night sari store in the bus station? Is this a common need late at night?). After that, it’s just a matter of checking phone records and taxi drivers and getting them to identify the suspects.
(Parveen Babi: also never wore saris)
Although, the red herring hunt does give us a fun little action scene. Oh, I should mention some stuff I liked about Mammootty’s character before I get there! I like how relaxed he is about everything. Relaxed and fearless. That’s part of what felt like a connection between him and Revathy. Just as she didn’t care who she attacked in her columns, and could calmly talk about it with her editors, so does Mammootty not care who his investigation ends up going after, he will follow the truth where ever it goes.
I also really liked how Mammootty is physically so large, but also so unthreatening. His assistants are shorter and skinnier, but they are the ones given the physical tasks for the most part while Mammootty sits back and observes. Mammootty is so cerebral, it seems like he doesn’t even think about the physical side of things. But then in one little scene, we get to see that he is fully capable of handling himself physically, he just isn’t interested.
It’s a cool action scene in general, Mammootty and his crew have figured out who the hired killer was, and are going to arrest and question him. Only, before they can get him another group “arrests” him. They throw him in the back of a police jeep and Mammootty shows up seconds later, in time for his car to chase the police jeep, which makes the bad cops decide to strangle the killer. And we see it all in flashes through the open back of the jeep, lit by Mammootty’s headlights. Finally, they manage to stop the jeep, and everyone piles out of both vehicles. Except for Mammootty who stays in the front seat of his car, watching it all. Until he notices the killer escaping, and he quietly unlatches the door, and then WAM! Kicks it open just in time to knock him out.
And then, after all that, the circumstantial evidence comes in and they find out it was someone else totally unrelated for reasons totally unrelated. Her fiance’s father, a leading lawyer (this is the bit I’m not sure about from how he is introduced, is he a character from the last movie and that’s how Mammootty knows him? Or is it just to establish that he is a prominent lawyer and thus the police know him?), and his loyal law clerk, are the ones who killed her.
For a reason that no one could have ever imagined or discovered!!!! It’s just INSANE!!! Luckily, I have been watching a ton of Midsomer Murders lately, so the idea of incest and murder is basically normalized now. Seriously, every third Midsomer Murder episode revolves around siblings falling in love. Which is what happened here, we learn all of a sudden in the last ten minutes.
(Speaking of oddly incestous feeling things….)
Oh, and now that I think about it, even the circumstantial evidence wasn’t needed. All they needed was to arrest the fiance, which is what prompted his father to confess everything. I suppose the circumstantial evidence lead them to suspect the father and therefore arrest the son to force his confession, but still! It’s a pretty loose connection between all their investigations and the actual solution.
Oh right, do you want to know the solution? Years ago, the lawyer got Parvathy’s mother, an actress, a divorce. She then moved to Madras and they started an affair. Parvathy was the result, they broke up before she was born, Parvathy never knew who her father was, her mother died, she became a famous actress and, unknowingly, ended up falling in love with her brother. Her fiance’s father couldn’t bring himself to tell either his son or his daughter the truth, and he decided the best solution was to kill Parvathy before they could be married.
I suppose you could come up with a sort of specious connection between Parvathy’s willingness to break all those personal scandals in her columns and her father’s fear that she might tell the world the truth about her parents. But mostly, it’s just a totally out of left field solution at the last minute (did you know “out of left field” came from when the Chicago Cubs used to play next to the Cook County hospital Mental Ward? The patients supposedly threw foul balls back onto the field from the left side).
Anyway, this movie was good enough that I definitely want to watch the others! Einthusan has the 4th one, but no the 3rd, which means I will need to skip AGAIN. But I will do it, because that’s how much I want to watch it.