Anjaam Pathiraa (2020) Malayalam Movie Review: The Hunter and the Hunted

The latest Malayalam thriller to stream on our home screens is Anjaam Pathiraa (the fifth midnight).  Kochi the metro city of Kerala is shocked by a cold blooded murder of a cop. An investigation team is formed, with Anwar (Kunchacko Boban) who is a psychologist helping the team.  Soon the cops realise that they are looking at a serial killer who is out to murder the cops.

Anjaam Pathiraa works on both levels, as a thriller but it is also interested in bigger question from a social angle, who is responsible for turning normal human beings to criminals, is it society or the circumstances.

What makes the film interesting is that here Anwar is not an know it all expert; he is still learning the ropes and rather being interested in the killer, he is more interested in why the killings are happening.

Anjaam Pathiraa as an investigative thriller highlights how Indian cops are stuck in a time wrap when it comes to technology whereas criminals have zoomed pass the cops.  We don’t get angry cops in the film, here we see cops being subservient when they are rebuked by seniors.  The investigative team works around bureaucracy to solve the case.  Even when the case is taken over by another team, Anwar does not go single handedly to solve the case, he tries to be helpful to the new team.

Mild Spoilers Ahead

When the film nears its third act, we get the backstory of the antagonist of the film. The film does not shy away and talks about the contentious issue of child abuse by the church. This is where the film takes a turn, where we start to root for both Anwar and Benjamin (Sharafudheen).

It gets more interesting as we realize that Anwar means light. Here we have a character who wants to explore or shed light on why humans behave the way they do or harm others. We have a villain who is named Benjamin, the righteous one, one of the few people who died without sinning (Biblical reference).

As the film nears the conclusion, Anwar questions what the difference between law and justice is. Over here perhaps the law might have prevailed but was justice done? This is a film where there are no hero or victors but mere pawns in the system where the powerful prey on the meek.

Director Midhun Manuel Thomas gives us a solid thriller which is not satisfied in being an mere investigative thriller. He pushes us, forcing the audience to shift our loyalty and empathy from the hunted to the hunter.  There is a moment in the film where we root for the killer, and in that moment the film made me introspect the idea of justice and murder.

It showcases a mirror to ourselves, after all we all say and do things differently.

The film is streaming on Sun Nxt with English Subtitles.

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