Neru provides the supreme satisfaction of observing good reasoning, noble intentions, and honest efforts prevailing in the face of brute forces.
It's always wonderful to see Mohanlal effortlessly slip into the role of an ordinary man. In Neru, Mohanlal's Vijayamohan doesn't have any extraordinary qualities. He is not a hero like Pulimurugan or Stephen Nedumpally on whom you can depend in times of physical danger.
Vijayamohan is a defeated lawyer, who spends hours sifting through legal books, making notes for other lawyers to make a living. During the early days of his career, he was a very promising talent, but after a betrayal from his mentor, he exhibited great promise, but a betrayal from his mentor led him to quietly retreat from the sunlight, containing himself in the shadows. He would have soon slipped into oblivion, if not for a handful of good people, who still believed in him.
Ahana ( a charming Santhi Mayadevi) pulls him out of his self-pity by convincing him to take on a very challenging case. A young girl named Sara Mohammed (Anaswara Rajan) is subjected to sexual assault within the safety of her home. Her tormentor plans the invasion when she was home alone and rapes her. The rapist takes extreme caution to cover his tracks, throwing the investigating officers off his scent. He is particularly confident that he would never get caught because his victim is blind. So he thinks that Sara can never identify him, even if he gets caught. Boy was he wrong.
But, Sara is a gifted sculptor and she captures his face perfectly in a bundle of mud, busting her attacker's illusion of having committed a perfect crime. However, Michael Joseph (Sankar Induchoodan), the rapist, comes from an affluent background, which upsets the balance of power in the case. He has access to the best legal experts, unlimited funds to bribe police officials and ruthless henchmen at his disposal to help him get out of trouble.
On the other hand, Sara has only her grit, moxie and unwavering determination to bring her attacker to justice. And of couse, Vijayamohan.
Vijayamohan at first refuses to come to Sara's assistance on the simple fact he hasn't attended a trial in a year. "I am not fit," he says. The years of hibernation have caused a mental fog in him and he's also grown out of shape. The first time when he wears his lawyer's coat after many years, it doesn't even fit him.
First Vijayamohan must overcome his own shortcomings and get into a fighting shape before he can actually help Sara. As you may guess, Vijayamohan soon shakes off his initial reluctance and takes on the challenge.
A well-crafted courtroom drama always gets you. There is something innately beautiful and soul-soothing about witnessing justice triumph over injustice. Neru is one such film that provides the supreme satisfaction of observing good reasoning, noble intentions, and honest efforts prevailing in the face of brute forces. It's an especially gratifying watch at a time when the world, as we know it, seems to be spiralling out of control, slipping into chaos, and increasingly becoming unrecognizable.
It's probably the main reason behind the unexpected box-office success of Neru. You may wonder what is so surprising about a movie with the top talents of Malayalam cinema striking a chord with the audiences. It's because for some reason there was very little anticipation for the movie in the run-up to its theatrical release. Overshadowed by blockbusters like Dunki and Salaar, many thought it didn't stand a chance against these box office juggernauts.
However, Neru gradually wormed its way into the imaginations of the audiences and ultimately captivated them with a compelling underdog story set against our country's complicated criminal justice system.
At a time when being reasonable is considered a big risk, and justice seems out of reach for ordinary citizenry, such movies are a source of great emotional and mental comfort. Not everyone can summon Pulimurugan or Stephen Nedumpally in a time of crisis. Common people need to seek justice and solve their problems through the legal framework. Movies like Neru highlight the importance of a robust judiciary system, should we commoners have any hope of finding justice.
Neru is streaming on Disney+Hotstar.