Banner: Marikar Films
Cast: Mammootty, Manju, Sai Kumar, Vijayaraghavan, Subair, Lalu Alex, Rajan P Dev, Shammi Thilakan, Sphadikom George, Urmila Unni
Direction: Ranji Panikkar
Production: Shahul Hameed Marikar and Anto Joseph
When the big daddy of political masala films laced with hard-hitting punchlines makes a comeback to movie halls, its time to sit back and get engrossed. Renji Panikkar is back with Mammootty playing a cop for the 26th time inRoudram.
Panikkar’s film as usual is the latest update on the socio-political scene in Kerala, as seen through the eyes of his protagonist. An upright, honest and fearless cop who is fighting the system from within. There is nothing new in story or presentation but what makes Roudram work is Mammootty’s characterization of the cop ‘Nari’. He steers this uneven high-on-punchlines film to the winning post.
The plot definitely evokes a sense of déjà vu, like a cop ‘Dirty Harry’ Narendran who is a one-man army who grapples with a corrupt society run by mafia’s with political support, inefficient and rotten police administration and a chief minister who is more concerned about his whealer-dealer son than the people who voted him and his party to power.
Well it may be old wine in new ‘tetra pack’ from Renji, but the writer director through his hero is able to deftly capture the guts and gory goings-on in the Kerala police. The much reviled police force has enough to rejoice. Ranji outlines the good and bad within the cop land, with a fair amount of credibility.
Narendran(Mammootty) is ACP in Ernakulam. He is not an IPS officer, but a non-cadre police officer, who is frustrated about how things takes place in the government machinery and gets frequently transferred when he has run-in’s with his superiors. He is called by his nickname ‘Nari’ or ‘Puli’ in the force and is married to a nice girl Prabha (Manju) and has a seven year old son. Nari is a left sympathizer and is always fighting a loosing battle to salvage the reputation of the force who he feels should be for the common man.
His superior officers in the Ernakulam, Shahabuddin the D.I.G (Rajan.P.Dev) and SP Thomas Antony (Lalu Alex) are his protectors in the force, though IG Balagopalan (Ramu) and other officers hate him. One day his superiors on the special request of the Chief Minister (Janardanan) are entrusted to investigate the hit and run case of Kamblikandam Jose (Subair), a notorious history sheeter and a Ganja planter. Nari’s investigation opens a can of worms that leads to the kingpins in drug mafia in the state- Purushothaman Pillai or Appachye (Vijayraghavan) a land grabber from Idukki and his foster son Sethu (Sai Kumar) a high flying mafia chief with drug links in Goa, and they are protected by IG Balagopalan and the Chief Ministers son! How Nari using his brains, brawn and dare-devilry demolishes the bad guys and once again brings honour to the force is what the rest of the film is about.
The highlight of the film is Mammootty’s introduction scene, as he takes on another cop who is trying to make “mamool” in a public place. But what takes the cake is the scene before the interval, when he confronts the IG who is trying to buy him over, with the punchline in English-“ Prove your balls, if you dare! I will hunt you down like ‘Nari’, an animal!!” Mammootty is mesmerizing as ‘Nari’ and he reinvents the idiom of “acting once more with feeling”. He sure is the best cop in Malayalam films, with a powerful screen presence.
The canvas of ‘Roudram’ is big, as it encompasses a host of characters and situations, much bigger than Panikkar’s earlier movies and have specific roles to play and Sai Kumar plays a cantankerous villain, Vijayaraghavan has a meaty role. All the actors in the cast, like Lalu Alex, Rajan P. Dev, Urmila Unni, Sona and new girl Manju, who plays Mammootty’s wife,are aptly cast and thank god there are no songs. Sanjeev Sankar’s cranks the camera effectively underlining the tension. The second half of the film needs trimming and on the whole it is too long at 2 hours 45 minutes.
Although Roudram is certainly not in the league of Ranji Panikkar’s earlier works, however the director does construct an engrossing actor-driven political action adventure with panache.