The first 15-20 minutes of Nibunan clearly establishes the kind of movie it aspires to be. There is plenty of action, several moments where DSP Ranjith Kalidas (Arjun Sarja) gets to play the saviour. (In fact, the camera lingers on Kalidas’ gun for a few seconds before it pans to his face.) Right from the opening sequence, Kalidas is the knight in shining armour, who swoops in and saves the day; irrespective of whether it’s his colleagues Joseph (Prasanna) or Vandhana (Varalakshmi Sarathkumar) who get stuck or someone else.
Kalidas’ infallibility stretches across realms. Consider the exchange between the Superintendent and Kalidas. The former is in a conversation with a higher official about a case that requires the force’s best man. The SP calls Kalidas, who is in middle of an assignment, and asks how long the latter will take to accomplish his task. Kalidas, in response, explains that he has to neutralise four armed men in a building. “You can speak to him in 5 minutes,” remarks the SP to the higher official, with no shadow of doubt or question.
The same ‘reverence’ for Kalidas is maintained by all characters throughout the movie, minimising the suspense the screenplay offers. He is not just the perfect cop; he is also the loving husband, father and the friendly brother (He also cooks well). Hence, as the movie progresses the thrills are underwhelming, despite Kalidas painstakingly piecing the puzzle together. How can something go wrong when Kalidas is around?
Three bizarre murders with inexplicable clues; corpses with masks, dressed in costumes – one killer; forms the crux of Nibunan. Lithe, agile, precise, it is fitting that the Action King plays a cop in his 150th film. He could have done it blindfolded and he does it well too. The rest of film’s casting, interestingly, works both for and against the movie. Our expectations from the well-known ensemble keep us engrossed, only to have a bitter sweet ending.
The movie progresses at a considerable pace, only mildly hampered by the romance between Kalidas and Shilpa (Shruthi Hariharan). The cinematography, while plays mildly with colours, is fairly straightforward.
On the whole, Nibunan feels like the middle bencher in school. It doesn’t surprise you, for good or for worse.
This was first originally published on https://indianexpress.com/. You can find it here.
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