Director Bibin Krishna sticks to the basics of a police procedural – explaining the crime first and then showing how the cops decode the scene and draw up clues to help proceed the investigation. He introduces twists and suspects, strapping them with strong motives, thereby letting the audience also work out their investigative skills
Last Updated: 04.59 AM, Mar 18, 2022
Story: After the murders of two siblings in two days leave the officer in-charge without a clue, crime branch DySP Nanda Kishor, who himself is dealing with a personal crisis after the death of his daughter, is tasked with the job of solving the case. As Nanda carries out the probe, each suspect also unravels a new motive that takes the case forward. But as time runs out, will Nanda be able to save the suspects and also apprehend the killer?
Review: Investigative thrillers are a hard genre to crack. But debutant Bibin Krishna has chosen it for his debut venture Twenty One Grams, and most parts succeed at it, just by sticking to the formula and introducing one twist after the other without trying anything too over-the-top or clever.
The film, starring Anoop Menon as a crime branch DySP Nanda Kishore, is essentially about how he and his team comprising Anu Mohan and Mareena Micheal Kurisingal go about solving the murders of two sibilings – essayed by Manasa Radhakrishnan and Chandunath. The first few minutes might appear confusing with the filmmaker weaving the past and present, but over time it nicely fits into the puzzle – a repeated and somewhat tiring allegory in the film – that Bibin creates.
This is also probably the only gimmick that he tries out differently and with a mixed effect. Otherwise, Bibin sticks to the basics of a police procedural – explaining the crime first and then showing how the cops decode the scene and draw up clues to help proceed the investigation. He introduces twists and suspects, strapping them with strong motives, thereby letting the audience also work out their investigative skills. This is another smart ploy employed by Bibin as when viewers think they have got it figured out, the film pulls out one last trick that few saw coming.
Twenty One Grams has an ensemble cast with cameos from Shankar Ramakrishnan, director Ranjith and Renji Panicker. Considering that the film largely revolves around a defined setting, the introduction of these characters help in piecing together new information and a new suspect. Considering its contained narrative, Bibin also ensures that each thread is neatly tied to the overall narrative. Even Leona Lishoy, who plays Nanda’s wife and her predicament, has a bit to add to the story and not just shaping the investigator’s state of mind. In fact, it’s Lena as the superior officer, whom Nanda keeps referring to as ‘sir’, in a truncated role who makes the audience aware of how his objectivity is affected.
Jithu Damodar keeps the cinematography gimmick free, but still manages to sustain the tension during the second murder. Appu Bhattathiri’s editing is crisp and helps order the scattered puzzle of the first half as the movie progresses. The pacing though is inconsistent, probably because the makers want the audience to keep guessing as the investigators and hence throw them a bone or two with new suspects. While the last twist works, the exchange between the investigator and ‘puppeteer’ ahead of it seems to be a bit drawn out too.
Verdict: Anoop Menon’s Twenty One Grams is an investigative thriller that makes use of each of its characters and storyline. While it doesn’t have massive twists that provide shock value, what it does have manage to keep the audience engaging once they are hooked to the investigation in the second half.