Director Martin Prakkat chooses a darker mood, which sits well with the hopelessness that pervades the film
Early on in ‘Nayattu’, we see police officer Maniyan (Joju George) reluctantly manufacturing evidence against someone, following orders from a prominent politician. By the practiced ease with which he goes about this act, we know that this is not the first time he is doing it, neither would it be the last. “Even goons have the freedom to not take up quotations they don’t want to. The police do not have that freedom,” he tells rookie police officer Praveen Michael (Kunchakko Boban), revealing his helplessness.
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But when it becomes inconvenient for the system, it won’t take long for it to turn the hunt against those who were once their hunters. Police officers Maniyan, Praveen and Sunitha (Nimisha Sajayan) are forced to go on the run after they realise that the police, due to political pressure, is trying to frame them in a case, in which the circumstantial evidence is against them.
In his fourth film, Martin Prakkat attempts to lay bare the inner workings of the law and order machinery, and looks at how the political ramifications of high-profile cases and media narratives can shape the final outcomes, as per the script written from top. Shahi Kabir, a civil police officer, who wrote the screenplay for ‘Joseph’ brings his knowledge and experience of working in the department to the table.
- Director: Martin Prakkatt
- Cast: Joju George, Nimisha Sajayan, Kunchakko Boban
A considerable part of the initial half is spent in telling us the personal backgrounds of the three police officers. Two of them are from Dalit backgrounds and all three are not economically well-off. Maniyan has invested all his hope on his young daughter, but is constantly concerned that he is never present for her when she needs him. All these details would come to play a key role in the narrative later.
At the centre of the conflict is Sunitha’s complaint against one of her relatives, a local ruffian associated with a Dalit political group. In the station, things get out of hand but political pressure again saves the day for the goon. But even when the script seems to have good intentions, some of the scenes at this point have a possible implication that the laws empowering Dalits are somehow being misused, which is not true considering the number of cases of Dalit oppression still being reported.
Other than this misstep, the film stays firmly on the side of those who are fighting a losing battle against the system. Taking a shift from the flashier presentation and upbeat mood of his previous films, Prakkat chooses a darker mood, which sits well with the hopelessness that pervades the film. The viewer is also immersed in this world with the trio, feeling every ounce of the fear and anger that they experience. But the rather ambiguous epilogue can leave more questions than answers in the mind of some viewers.
‘Nayattu’ is a convincing portrayal of the mercilessness of a faceless system, where the hunters could become hunted before they even realise it.
Nayattu is currently running in theatres