Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval, whose films Android Kunjappan Ver. 5.25 and Kanakam Kamini Kalaham have his trademark humour that borders on deadpan and satire, has retained this in Nna, Thaan Case Kodu too. Considering that the movie addresses a relevant topical issue that has huge ramifications, the humour works brilliantly in engaging the audience with the story
Last Updated: 09.29 AM, Aug 11, 2022
Story: Rajeevan is apprehended by the cops and humiliated in front of the people after being accused of entering the grounds of an MLA’s house at night and being bitten by the latter’s dogs. Out of work and out to prove his innocence, Rajeevan takes on those responsible for his current status in the society through the legal system. But his case and background are as convoluted as his predicament and the incidents that led him to jump the wall to the premises of the MLA’s house. Can a normal man, who has a background that isn’t ‘clean’, take on some of the most powerful people in the society aided only by the country’s law?
Review: A lot of thrillers work because of the bias and preconceived notions that the audience carry with them while watching these films. But in the recent past, the makers have showcased how these bias of all kinds have a much more significant role to play in influencing people’s mindsets and manipulating them to an extent. Malayalam cinema, especially through its last three courtroom dramas – Prithviraj Sukumaran’s Jana Gana Mana, Nivin Pauly’s Mahaveeryar and now Kunchacko Boban’s Nna, Thaan Case Kodu – lays it bare, but through three extremely varied approaches.
Director Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval, whose films Android Kunjappan Ver. 5.25 and Kanakam Kamini Kalaham have his trademark humour that borders on deadpan and satire, has retained this in Nna, Thaan Case Kodu too. Considering that the movie addresses a relevant topical issue that has huge ramifications, the humour works brilliantly in engaging the audience with the story. For instance, the courtroom, which becomes the setting for majority of the film is packed with lawyers who don’t mind having a go at each other, a magistrate who is more bothered by the pigeons that keep flocking about but calls a spade a spade and people and an eclectic group of characters that are questioned about the core incident that drives the film.
This episode itself branches out into the different layers the filmmaker has used to show the inherent bias in people. We get a biker (Mridul Nair), whose profession is touring the country, being questioned about why he has chosen the profession and instead of being honest, he gives an answer pointing to his tattoos, knowing that’s what the lawyer wants. There’s also an autorickshaw driver (Rajesh Madhavan), who is almost like a character straight from a Wes Anderson film, who adds to the humour while also standing out in a setting that is earthy and at the same time farcical.
Ratheesh’s characters including its protagonist Rajeevan (Kunchacko Boban) are not what the majority expect them to be. Which is exactly what the film tries to drive at. Rajeevan, a former thief, is in a live-in relationship with Gayathrie Sankar’s character, who is pregnant. For him, it’s important that she believes he is innocent, but over time when it becomes clear, she urges him that it’s a folly to just stop at her because it’s important that the rest of the society too knows his innocence. This takes him on a quest that unravels truth and also its consequences. But is all that enough for the legal system to take action? And more imporantly is it worth it, especially considering the time the justice system takes to act?
Here, the focus on the frustration that Rajeevan feels is not highlighted through the physical and emotional turbulence of its characters. Sure, we get ample references of how Rajeevan can’t work and limps because the dogs take a huge chunk of flesh off him. But the filmmaker doesn’t linger there too much and make it a drama, instead he skips to each hurdle that Rajeevan has to face and all along we get the price of petrol to evaluate the time that has passed – a genius move that again fits into the social commentary that the film makes, about the political parties, the plight of the common man, the rising fuel prices, the ever-expanding potholes and how the legal system, at least in some instances, have led as a shining example.
Kunchacko once again becomes a chameleon, transforming into this common man, waging a personal battle against the high and mighty. His make-up and physical attributes all lend a lot to the character, which is whacky at times and also enraged at the right moments. It’s a worthy follow-up to Kunchacko’s recent mature performances in Nayattu, Bheemante Vazhi and Pada, all of which incidentally were also about breaking out of a stereotype that filmmaker and writers have often pictured him in. Gayathrie as Rajeevan’s lover handles humour as well as the serious sequences with relative ease, and never feels out of place in her Malayalam debut.
Some of the other standout performances though come from relative newcomers such as PP Kunhikrishnan, who plays the magistrate. There’s an assured calm at which he carries out the proceedings and elevates the court scenes with his equation with the lawyers including the actor who played advocate Shukoor. Kunhukrishnan’s restrained performance also leads the way to some impactful scenes especially in the second half that is sure to get applause from the audience. The actors who play the politicians as well as the local supporters too deserve credit for making the movie feel as real as possible.
The film’s music by Dawn Vincent contributes effectively to its humour and setting – be it the Sabarimala references, the festivals or the court scenes where the mallet tapping assumes significance. Rakesh Haridas’ cinematography captures the beauty of Jothish Sankar’s sets and the production design by the filmmaker himself.
Verdict: Ratheesh Balakrishnan Poduval’s Nna, Thaan Case Kodu is one of those satires that will entertain audience in theatres and make you think while you walk out of it. Driven by some laugh-out-loud moments, good performances and brilliant writing, it’s a clever and pertinent courtroom satire.