While the Telugu version, directed by Pavan Sadineni, pans out like an action drama, Priyadarshan’s Malayalam remake unfolds in the thriller format
Last Updated: 02.43 PM, May 06, 2023
8 Thottakkal, the critically acclaimed cop thriller, marked the directorial debut of Sri Ganesh, a former associate of filmmaker Mysskin. While the 2016 release (now streaming on ZEE5), a loose adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s 1949 release Stray Dog, opened to good reviews and reception from audiences at the time of its release, it went onto be widely watched on OTT in the recent years.
The universal appeal of the story, tracing the journey of a gun, how it changes hands from a newly appointed cop to a retired officer-turned-criminal over a brief span, was one of the primary inspiration behind its remakes in Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam languages later. The fact that the Japanese original was made nearly seven decades ago proves how the plot was truly ahead of its times.
While the Kannada remake 8 MM Bullet hit screens in 2018, the Telugu and Malayalam versions Senapathi (direct OTT release on aha) and Corona Papers (streaming on Disney+ Hotstar) were out in 2021 and 2023. The core premise of all the remakes remains the same but the treatment underwent minor changes as per the target audiences in the languages.
8 MM Bullet (on ZEE5), headlined by Jaggesh, Vasishta Simha, among them, is the closest cousin to the Tamil version. However, with Senapathi and Corona Papers, there’s a certain effort from the directors Pavan Sadineni and Priyadarshan to improvise it with a new flavour. In the Telugu version, both the young and the retired cop have the same names - Krishnamurthy - and the storyteller visualises them as two similar people from different age-groups who adopt contrasting approaches to life.
The casting of Rajendra Prasad in Senapathi helps you look at the retired cop in a unique light. The experience of the veteran with heavy-duty drama and his enthusiasm to embrace the grey shades in Krishnamurthy with panache, result in a fabulous, emotionally affecting performance. Despite the crimes he commits, you empathise with his trauma, bitterness and views on the society. The dark humour, slick cinematography, action choreography enhance the impact further.
If it’s the drama, dialogues and the raw setting that grabs your eyeballs in Senapathi, Priyadarshan in his Malayalam production Corona Papers lends a racy touch to the screenplay and views it like a thriller. The film opens with the backstory of a senior cop (Siddique as Shankararaman) and how he’s framed in a twin-murder committed by a superior, thereby denying him a graceful exit from the profession.
By placing an unapologetic badass woman (Sandhya Shetty as ACP Gracy) as the superior, Priyadarshan twists gender-equations well to add intrigue to the proceedings. He underplays the drama surrounding Siddique and focuses more on the protagonist’s search for his lost gun. The tale remains gripping for the most part though the tension in the storytelling goes for a toss in the latter half.
The entire COVID-19 angle, the reimagination of the climactic confrontation are other added attractions to Corona Papers. In terms of the imaginative framing, use of backdrops and the lighting, the cinematographer Divakar Mani deserves praise. The controlled performances of Shane Nigam, Siddique, Sandhya Shetty, Shine Tom Chacko stay true to the spirit of the story.
Despite being made on a modest budget, Priyadarshan ensures that the visual appeal and technicalities aren’t compromised. It’s incredibly exciting that a 66-year-old filmmaker who is still on top of the game in terms of his craft, finds a way to rediscover himself after a wound like Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea.