Film Review – Achayans (Mal, 2017) – 1.5/5

Watching Achayans, one can’t help but get the feeling that the whole script was written on a tissue paper during a ganja-addled moment. A road trip, a murder, a denouement. That’s pretty much it. If you are looking for timepass cinema, this might be it. If you want something more meaningful, it might make more sense to watch paint dry. 

That’s not to say that Achayans does not have its moments. There are a few good one-liners, Prakash Raj’s quiet dignity in a movie marked by a total absence of subtlety, Ramesh Pisharody’s brilliant cameo reminiscent of Jagathy’s heydays, and a decently wide range of emotions pulled off by Anu Sithara. Jayaram’s fitness (both histrionic and physical) and Amala Paul’s intensity (if limited to only a couple of gears) bring the score of this movie to one-and-a-half stars from the zero its wafer-thin visualization deserves. 

On where it goes wrong… Alas, where do I start? The over-the-top drinking binges that the ‘lead actors’ (and I use both terms in the broadest sense of the word) indulge in for no reason, Jessie’s (Sshivada in a role that she shouldn’t have taken after her nuanced performance in Su… Su…) blind devotion to Tony (Unni Mukundan, who’s yet to deliver a nuanced performance in his career) when he’s the sort of bloke who can get talked, with very little effort, into going to a brothel so that he can set up a ‘comedy’ bit that adds another 5 mins to the movie… I’ve barely scratched the surface here.

The director seems to have a a crush on Prakash Raj. Nothing can explain the slow-mo framing every time Commissioner Kartik, the character he plays, appears on the screen. Granted, PR withstands such close-up scrutiny of his expressions with elan, but even his most ardent fan will feel the urge to switch to normal-speed after the first twenty or so instances. 

Something I found funny – Commissioner Kartik is a TamBrahm, with the obligatory introduction that shows him in a house (complete with pujas, a carnatic music class, an ‘ambi’ in angavastram) doing his morning puja. The camera pans across a couple of idols of Ganesha, maybe one of Krishna. You don’t see Lord Shiva anywhere – and yet, every single time that he (Prakash Raj, not Shiva) appears on the screen, the background switches to a devotional song for Lord Shiva. Perhaps the ‘Skanda Shashti Kavacham’ might have been a better choice. 

Continuing on the theme of Prakash Raj, if the way he investigates is the way the IPS officers of our country approach a crime, it’s no wonder our criminal justice system is so poor. The ‘top cop’ who’s never failed to prove a case steps into the victim’s pool of blood in his boots because, hey, there’s already a chalk outline around the body. When he spots cups placed over CCTV cameras, he removes them without gloves and presumably never has them tested for fingerprints. I’ll not spoil it for you – see how many more howlers you can spot. That should give you something to do while waiting for the slow-mos to end. 

Like I said at the beginning of this review, the plot is so wafer thin there wouldn’t be any point talking about it. Suffice to say that you can safely afford to miss the first hour of the movie and still be just as clueless as the rest of the audience when you enter the hall mid-way. This is again one of those movies where the producer heard a decent idea and wanted to get it out before someone else beat him to it. The casualty, as it always is in such cases, is the story-telling itself. Half-baked characters doing things for no rhyme or reason, a plot (plotette?) that stutters along. The climax alone pulls this back from the trash bin, but it still can’t take it too far away from the garbage heap.