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Critics Review
Kaaval movie review: Even late twists can’t ‘protect’ Suresh Gopi and Renji Panicker’s flat action-drama

Unlike Nithin Renji Panicker’s controversial Kasaba, Kaaval doesn’t have too many ‘mass’ sequences and those it does include doesn’t get the desired impact due to the pace of the story and the way it’s told

Sanjith Sidhardhan
Nov 25, 2021
cover image
Kaaval poster

Story: Friends Thampan and Antony, who used to serve as the ‘law enforcers’ of their village, become estranged from each other after a conflict costs the latter dearly. Decades later, after Antony and his family face a series of troubles, they reach out to Thampan, who is hesitant to return to his old ways. He’s also only a shadow of his former self. As the sins of his past catch up with Thampan, will he be able to guard Antony’s family against the grave threats they face?

Review: In a scene that is clearly aimed at playing to the gallery, a police officer admonishes his subordinate for suggesting if an ailing and injured Thampan (Suresh Gopi) should be dropped to his place in a police vehicle. The senior cop readily shoots this down and asks if he is a ‘commissioner’ to receive such treatment. In the backdrop, you get a hint of the theme from the ‘90s superhit that elevated Suresh Gopi to superstardom and Thampan spouts a few lines about not brushing off people as those who don’t have fire, as even dying embers can cause a burn.

In a way, it reflects the narrative behind Nithin Renji Panicker’s Kaaval. The movie is about an aging duo – Thampan and Antony (Renji Panicker) – who were firebrands in their heydays and didn’t think twice before taking on the authorities and emphasizing their dominance. But decades later, they are lions with no teeth. Their actions in the past apparently left them estranged and isolated from the people around them (this part needed more explanation as some of their deeds of the past were actually for the good of the villagers). With even the cops siding with those out to trouble Antony and his family, they have no other option than to approach Thampan, who himself is living detached. With Antony’s family – his daughter Rachel (Rachel David) and Alex (Evan Anil) – forced to endure grave threats, Thampan, who is only a shadow of his former fiery self, returns. But soon his past catches up to him.

Unlike Nithin Renji Panicker’s controversial Kasaba, Kaaval doesn’t have too many ‘mass’ sequences and the ones it does include doesn’t get the desired impact due to the pace of the story and the way it’s told. Kaaval is more of a family drama with the second half evolving as an investigative piece, but with convenient twists that don’t really help in making it an engaging watch.

Kaaval poster

While the team has spared the audience, Suresh Gopi and Renji Panicker the task of performing many action scenes, the ones in the movie aren’t convincing. In fact, the sequences of the past between the duo come off as forced. The current timeline has Suresh Gopi playing a sombre Thampan effectively, but those expecting the role to be a return to his action avatar image will sorely be disappointed. Even as a drama, Kaaval falls flat fast. The flashback scenes don’t quite justify the infamy of Thampan and Antony, and the family drama is predictable.

Evan Anil, Suresh Gopi and Rachel David in a poster from Kaaval

Rachel’s character, which could have been pivotal if developed even a bit, gets lost in the film’s haphazard narrative. Rachel, Evan and Shanker Ramakrishnan do a decent job with their characters. Padmaraj Ratheesh, Suresh Krishna and Kichu Tellus, however, don’t quite make an impact in the story. Ranjin Raj’s music complements the mood of the film, with songs such as Ennomal Nidhiyalle helping progress the storyline.

Verdict: Nithin Renji Panicker’s Kaaval is a slow drama that isn’t engaging enough due to its predictable mode of storytelling and insipid characters. While Suresh Gopi does a decent job in the aged portions, the star, Renji Panicker and the script seem to ‘lack the fire’ to keep the audience engaged. Convenient twists in the end don’t help either.

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