Considering that the lead trio, played by Asif Ali, Nimisha Sajayan and Antony Varghese, have been presented as people willing to do what it takes to achieve their selfish goals, it makes it hard to side with either of the parties in this Sony LIV release helmed by Jis Joy
Last Updated: 12.35 AM, Jun 09, 2022
Story: After a string of flops, actor-producer Adhi Shankar is neck deep in debt. Like his professional life, his personal life too is in disarray. To make matters worse for him, he is held hostage by two tech-savvy strangers, who take over his phone and use his voice messages and social media to cover for his absence. Are the two strangers too smart to get away with their act or will Adhi escape their clutches and bring them to justice?
Review: If director Jis Joy wanted to shake off the image of him championing the feel-good cause in Malayalam cinema with his latest thriller Innale Vare, he succeeds and how! It’s a far cry from the colourful, vibrant films such as Sunday Holiday and Vijay Superum Pournamiyum. In fact, Innale Vare, which is streaming on Sony LIV, is almost a noir thriller in the sense that the lead characters here are all grey and filled with moral ambiguity.
The movie revolves around a narcissistic and yet insecure movie star named Adhi Shankar, whose professional and personal lives are in complete disarray. This seems to also be the reason two tech-savvy strangers pick him as their target for a fraudulent deal. After coaxing Adhi to an abandoned apartment and locking him in, the strangers – Sharath (Antony Varghese) and Shani (Nimisha Sajayan) – then proceed to cover up his absence by breaking into his phone and manipulating his earlier voice messages. Jis, who is also the film’s scriptwriter, weaves this aspect convincingly for the audience that at certain points, the dark side of technology and its possibilities scare you.
Nitpickers can say that the fake calls might have sounded too disjointed at times to convince the other person, but the makers try to address this through Adhi’s muddled-up life and priorities. In fact, Adhi’s character here serves as a mirror to the other side of fame, which is also why in the latter half when he has to prove that he has been kidnapped, he fails miserably. How Jis pieces together the explanations of both Adhi as well as those of Sharath and Shani is almost watertight. He also keeps it simple – which might not have worked for other stories but when you have a central character of an actor, who cares about his public image more than seeking justice, it fits well.
Even without the final act, which does seem out of place from the tone of the rest of the film, Innale Vare does its work as a gripping thriller. But what the last 10 minutes does is allow the audience to empathise with each of its characters. Considering that the trio have been presented as people willing to do what it takes to achieve their selfish goals, it makes it hard to side with either of the parties. This is probably also why despite the movie having thrills from start to end, it lacks a certain sense of attachment. It’s like you are watching the gripping events unfold but you don’t really care for these characters much. The finale, however, gives us that perspective and sets the moral compass right, but it does come too late. Also, the final act undoes all the clever work that precedes it.
Performance-wise, the best scenes in the film belong to Nimisha Sajayan. She once again brings her A-game to the role that lets her play so many sides of Shani – from the excited fangirl who swiftly tiptoes across the rooms after luring the prey to a desperate woman who gets into a physical altercation with Abhi as he tries to force himself out of the room. Asif too shines as Adhi. Though he has proven time and again, he can play different parts effortlessly, this role required him to be loud, literally, and arrogant. He aces that. It’s a welcome change to see Antony play a role that required him to be subtle and he does his job well. The movie also has good supporting roles from Reba Monica John, Athulya Chandra, Rony David, Irshad and cinematographer Sujith Vaassudev, who puts on a surprisingly good performance as an actor.
Being a hostage thriller at its core, the film has dark and claustrophobic settings that are well captured by Bahul Ramesh. The editing is crisp and justifies the runtime of the movie.
Verdict: Jis Joy abandons his trademark feel-good elements for this thriller that works because of clever-but-simple writing and some great performances from Nimisha Sajayan and Asif Ali. If you are in a mood for a hostage thriller with decent twists, it’s a recommended weekend watch.