Amnesia has been a great way to start a movie. Mumbai Police, the taut Malayalam thriller written by Bobby-Sanjay and directed by Rosshan Andrrews takes this subject and delivers one of the finest movies, not just in Malayalam, but Indian cinema. The entire movie is seamlessly stitched together in a way that a viewer would forget to eat her caramel popcorn or his nachos.
From the moment ACP Antony Moses aka Rascal Moses (Prithviraj) wakes up with amnesia after an accident, he leads us into a labyrinth of unexpected and unfortunate incidents within his life that unravel like a thousand-petalled lotus. Except that the awakening is never pleasant but leads into a further chakravyuh. For the accident happens just before he could name a murderer. Therein, lies ensconced the heart of the mystery that rivets you to the screen.
Through Prithvi’s eyes, the viewer realizes that his senior, the Police Commissioner Farhan Aman, played brilliantly by the once-upon-a-time chocolate hero Rahman, is his brother-in-law. For reasons unknown to us, the enigmatic Farhan forces Moses, despite his amnesia, to single-handedly figure out the name of the murderer who shot their mutual friend Assistant Commissioner Aaryan; a role ably played by the talented Jayasurya. Both, Rehman and Jayasurya, play well-rounded characters that leave an indelible mark on the viewer.
But it is Prithvi who steals the thunder yet again – scene by scene. His confusion, his fear and anger, his shock start becoming part of your psyche as you watch the plot unfold. Being an unabashed fan, my favourite list of his movies includes Chocolate, City of God, Anwar, Urumi, Arjunan Sakshi and Kerala Café and I have always admired his choice of eclectic roles over the years; even his dreamum wakeuppam wakda dance in Aiyya. But it is in Mumbai Police, that Prithvi breaks the barrier of convention and attempts a role that has never ever been attempted by a Malayalam hero. The best parts of the movie are whenever Moses figures out that the Moses before the amnesia was not a very likeable person. And each time, when he brushes away a part of his past with a good deed, a new and ugly truth starts to unravel its ugly head.
Like a compass that has gone haywire, the twists in the tale turn the needle of suspicion towards one direction and then another. The cinematography by G. Diwakaran is brilliant and well-supported by the tight editing. Produced by Nisad Haneefa and co-produced by Nivas Haneefa and Niyas Haneefa, the background score is composed by Gopi Sunder. The tension in the plot could thankfully develop in leaps and bounds due to the marked absence of any songs – item numbers or otherwise. One must also commend Kunjan and Aparna Nair for their excellent character roles. The tale of three friends finally culminates into an unexpected turn that will leave the auditorium shocked; but no spoilers here.
New age Malayalam cinema
I must add that Mumbai Police together with Trivandrum Lodge, Kerala Café and Chappa Kurishu are harbingers of a new age in Malayalam cinema that does away with tharwad tales, sobbing mothers and overaged actors dancing with young arm candy. This new list of movies catapults Kerala into its new reality. Where the Onam sadya is now ordered as a parcel andwhere the tharwad home has been demolished and sold for the wood; now reinstated as a wing of a heritage hotel. While the NRI abroad buys banana leaves and sambhar podi and clings to nostalgia of a past that ceased to exist eons ago.