Movie Review: ‘Malik: Big, Bold, And Confident’

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Posted in Featured, Movies, National

Dipankar Sarkar

Set in the fictional town of Ramadapally, Kerala, Mahesh Narayanan’s Malik (2021), currently streaming on Prime Video, is an emotionally charged rural crime saga made with control and clarity. The sprawling structure of the film, spanning over decades, is a well-knitted tale of power, manipulation, and misapprehensions.

The film begins by introducing the audiences to the world inhabited by the local gangster, Ahmed Ali Sulaiman (Fahadh Faasil), aka Ali Ikka, and the nexus between criminals and politicians. Later, as Sulaiman embarks on his Haji pilgrimage the authorities arrest him at the airport under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA). While Sulaiman is in Jail, the authorities owing to political pressure conspire to murder him. But before the execution of this heinous crime, the film unfolds through flashbacks and establishing the nature of relationships between the characters. The multiple point-of-views allow perspective to the tale of an individuals’ downward spiral into the world of crime. It further reveals that how a mix-up of an unfortunate event ployed a cunning politician, P. A. Aboobacker (Dileesh Pothan), germinated the seed of aversion and marred the lives of two close friends, Sulaiman and David Christudas (Vinay Fortt).

The cinematography by Sanu Varghese gives the film a delicate nuance of light and shade resulting in a strong visual presentation. Narayana, who has also edited the film, ensures that the pacing enhances the emotions and lends lucidity to the narration. The production design by Santhosh Raman and also the choice of costumes by Dhanya Balakrishnan and Shukoor convincingly recreates the milieu representing different decades with minute attention to detail. However, it is the meticulous casting that raises the bar of the film by several notches. Fahad Faasil is riveting in his understated performance as a gangster confronting moral dilemmas that affect his relationships with people close to him. Vinay Forrt delivers a flawless performance standing tall with the rest of his co-actors. Nimisha Sajayan as Roseline, Joju George as Anwar Ali, and Dinesh Poothan as the conniving antagonist- all of them sank their teeth into the characters.

Narayanan has directed Malik with confidence and force, but somehow it lacks the lightning-flash of inspiration of something like Mani Ratnam’s Nayakan (1987), a similar crime story narrating the rise of a gangster. It also could not match with the originality in the plot delineated by Vetrimaaran in his crime saga Vada Chennai (2018). Nonetheless, Malik is big, bold, confident filmmaking and should not be missed.

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