–By Manigandan K R
Director Srinath Rajendran’s ‘Kurup’, which looks to narrate the story of Sudhakara Kurup, a man believed to be Kerala’s most elusive criminal, is a lavishly made, slow-moving investigative thriller that ends up leaving you with more questions than answers.
Kurup’s story is told through the jottings in the diary of a police officer Krishnadas (Played by Indrajith Sukumaran), who has just retired.
We are introduced to Gopikrishnan Pillai (played by Dulquer Salmaan), a street-smart opportunist with swag and a wicked sense of humour. The picaresque hero from a little known place in Kerala makes his way into the Indian Air Force and is stationed at Chennai in the 1960s, where he sees an opportunity to make money by selling alcohol, meant for Indian Air Force personnel, in black.
When he gets to understand how much he can make through the backdoor, he widens his scope and begins selling other items, including footwear meant for air force personnel to those outside the force.
The station head, who understands Gopikrishnan’s crooked nature well, has him transferred to Bombay (Mumbai) in the hope that the strict in-charge there will set him straight. In Bombay, the man is made a store assistant, more as a punishment than anything else.
However, Gopikrishnan Pillai sees an opportunity here as well and in place of alcohol, starts selling arms and ammunition. At one point, when the entries in the registry don’t add up, Gopikrishanan is hauled up and asked to explain. That puts him in a spot. The smart cookie that he is, Gopikrishnan Pillai goes on sick leave for a month and heads back to his native place in Kerala, where he stages his own death to fool the IAF.
Having done that, he assumes a new name, Sudhakara Kurup, and gets down to do dirty work. What he does then is what primarily gets him into trouble and makes him a fugitive…
The story of Sudhakara Kurup is narrated in a non-linear fashion, which is to say the story’s developments aren’t told to us in a sequence. The story moves back and forth, shifting focus to different events at different points in Kurup’s life and narrated from different perspectives.
The first half of the film progresses at a gentle pace, showcasing a mischevious and bold individual who even has one or two good traits.
For instance, Kurup does not ditch Sharadha, the girl who falls in love with him. Unmindful of the pressing and difficult circumstances he finds himself in, he makes his way back to Bombay to find her and take her abroad.
The first half is so slow that by the time it ends, you begin to wonder why is a man who is wanted in just one murder case considered such a big criminal.
The answer to that question lies in the second half, which, however, seems to narrate events in a rush. What the first half lacks, the second has in excess.
It’s almost like a student who has been writing an exam at a gentle, steady pace, suddenly realising that he has a lot of questions to answer and very little time to finish.
In the process, what we have are sequences that narrate the story in a hurry. As a result, you end up with a number of unanswered questions, giving you a sense of dissatisfaction.
To be fair to ‘Kurup’, the film has its share of pluses as well.
Dulquer Salmaan as Gopikrishnan Pillai a.k.a. Sudhakara Kurup is just brilliant. From the moment he appears on screen, Dulquer commands your attention, easily slipping into the skin of the character. Be it crime or comedy or for that matter, romance, the guy is equally at ease.
Equally impressive is Indrajith Sukumaran, who plays police officer Krishnadas. Two other people whose performances stand out are Shine Tom Chacko and Bharath.
Nimish Ravi’s visuals are a delight to watch. The lighting, the tone and the angles set for the shots are all just brilliant.
Recreating a different era is no joke and the team of ‘Kurup’ seems to have done an outstanding job in this regard too. Be it the mid-sixties, when the story starts, or the seventies or for that matter, 2005, every era is just perfectly showcased. Be it the mannerisms of people, buildings, dressing styles or vehicles used, everything seems to be in place.
There is so much effort that seems to have gone into this project that ‘Kurup’ ends up coming across as a film that so desperately wants to meet our huge expectations. However, sadly, it falls short of doing so.