14 February 2016 | nairtejas
Kurcha Pazhe Niyamam. ♦ Grade C+
We only have a handful of films when it comes to the thriller/suspense genre in Malayalam cinema, and it is appreciable that the man who gave us Chintamani Kolacase (2006), arguably one of the best Malayalam crime thrillers in the previous decade, has again put in a similar effort.
Louis Pothen (Mammootty) is the multi-talented better half of Kathakali dancer Vasuki (Nayanthara). He is a film critic, an artist, and professionally a divorce lawyer who uses his sarcasm and wit to manage both his work and family lives. Together with a daughter, they stay in a city high-rise, away from their parents, insignificantly because their marriage was an inter-caste one. While the introduction is filled with the characters wondering, and then reciprocating, about the current state of crime affairs in the state of Kerala, our protagonist #1, Vasuki, visually narrates with scarce use of words her life as a paranoid woman, wife, and mother. At the start of the second act you realize that she is not really a paranoid, but a victim of a certain crime.
The haunting first act is carved with much finesse, so much that you will find yourself in the edge of your seat. Although it lacks substance and takes us for a dark ride into the characters' development, the second and final acts really push. The arresting background score is what drives the narration of Vasuki as she speaks about her episode and consequently sets out for vengeance. Of course there are plenty loopholes in the script, but crime thrillers don't always stick to logic, and if it needs to pump drama, then it at least requires some imaginative boost.
It is clear that Mr. Saajan drew inspiration from hit yesteryear films Drishyam (2013) and 22 Female Kottayam (2012) to create such a story whose basic gist itself is questionable on grounds of ethics and righteousness. Going against the law has become the current trend in imaginative stories such as this where characters, sometimes themselves enforcers of law, set out to bend the rules for their own and loved ones's safety. A debate had broken out when Jeethu Joseph's Drishyam came out, questioning Mohanlal's character's decision and the mode he uses to right a wrong. If this film here garners so much chatter as that one, then the debate shall continue where dilemma will be the chief guest. The dilemma whether you can take the law in your own hands or not. The most superficial inference to these topics and debates is that laws have to be amended periodically as we evolve, and Puthiya Niyamam mildly requests it.
Another theme that the film explores is that of millennials spiraling into self-imposed destruction due to (uncontrolled) consumption of dangerous substances like marijuana and LCD that pop up in the nooks and corners of Kerala (or any other place for that matter) with fancy names like Idukki Gold and Meow Meow. The consequences are often dire as this leads these 'freak' youngsters to participate in delinquency like sexual assault and other crimes. Satyriasis maybe a curable disease, but when intoxication is a supporting agent, crime is inevitable. No wonder ugly cases like that of rape and molestation help create newspaper headlines, which involves youth who do not even spare their family members. No wonder millennials love faux-incest porn so much.
Arguably, Nayanthara steals the limelight with her gritty performance as a young homemaker in distress. She starts off lightly, but then gathers speed, supported well by her co-star. Mammootty plays a jovial dude as protagonist #2, and does a good job. Overall, the film is well-made with right amount of attention to the filming parameters. Calling the film clever would be an overstatement though, so lets settle for deft, because there were scenes that reminded me of my favorite video game series, Hit-man (2001 to 2016) where Agent 47 uses stealth and natural ways to finish off his targets...
BOTTOM LINE: A K Saajan's Puthiya Niyamam is a neat psychological thriller that discusses cases of crime that we read daily and do nothing about. It raises questions which have been raised before, only that the characters here strive to do something about it, at least for their own sake. It's worth the ticket price.
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES