Nayattu is a tale of the hunters being hunted. We have 3 cops, a by-election and hit-and-run case, and the death of a Dalit, this makes for an interesting concoction for Martin Prakkat’s new film.
Like most cop movies we have a veteran here, Maniyan (Joju George) who is a part of the system. He does not even have any qualms about shouting and intimidating two consenting adults for making out. He does not have any hesitancy in framing people when asked do so, thanks to a call from the upper echelon. He knows this is how the system works.
Then we have Praveen Michael (Kunchako Boban) who is a second-generation low-ranking police, learning the ropes. He lives with his sick mother. Then we have the third cop, Sunitha (Nimisha Sajayan) who is living with her mother and building her home.
All of them do not have a higher calling for justice or duty, they treat this as any other job and they know the workings of the system to an extent. Nayattu is about the hunters being hunted, a hunt where no one is safe, and a ruthless system that spits out at all of us.
At first, it starts as a police procedural drama, then it gets into the political zone, moving into a cat and mouse chase game, finally ending as a social commentary. Things are always not as simple as we intend it to be in Nayattu.
It is a thriller and that too a nail-biting one, but it is not a mindless chase film, there are no brave men or women on both sides. It is just a group of people trying to survive and doing their duty or subverting the system in a bid to survive.
The film does not preach, it just shows how life is a game between those who want power and those who have power. The characters do not put their caste on their sleeves, but they are forced to do so. They can be labelled and boxed for the benefits of political parties. It throws us an interesting question, does representation solve the problem or do we as a society need to do more? But then representation works for better optics.
What is interesting is that even Anuradha (Yama Gilgamesh) the IPS officer who is in pursuit to to catch the 3 policemen on the run, is also a victim of the system.
This movie has a few of the best chase sequences I have seen. The cops get tired, they take breaks and eat in between. There are no heroes on both sides, it is just men and women trying to survive this whirlpool of mess.
This is Shahi Kabir’s second film after Joseph and he is a writer to watch out for. My only grouse with the film is that when a film is trying to push what is masculinity, we see a hero washing clothes and buying sanitary pad, the role of Sunitha needed to be explored more. She is a cop, but when on the run it is the men who always pay, it is she who needs rescuing for the most part and even during the chase it is her character which does the cooking, This could have been avoided I feel.
The whole film is set against a backdrop of a by-election, you see how political party workers are canvassing for votes at the beginning of the film. It is about how electoral politics is important in a democracy, and during the epilogue, we get a scene where an Old lady is going to vote we feel a sense of joy however twisted the system is that people have the power to vote, but what follows the system is irony and reflects the reality.
This is easily one of the best films of 2021, it packs a punch and while we think we can look out for the twists on predictable lines, we are totally in for a surprise.