Film: Banking Hours 10 to 4 (Malayalam)

Director: K. Madhu

Cast: Anoop Menon, Tini Tom, Jishnu, Meghna Raj

Thrillers thrill in more or less the same fashion in Malayalam filmdom. A case presents itself in unusual circumstances, a cache of suspects are paraded and, in the final five minutes, the investigator, always the hero, analyses the case threadbare and presents the culprit, the most unlikely suspect, with a flourish. K. Madhu has fashioned blockbusters like the CBI… series out of this model. Evidently, he sees no reason to change tack in Banking Hours 10 to 4 .

As the title screams out, the plot unravels in a bank. All the suspects are cooped in it for six hours, within which time the case is solved. Madhu does well to limit the film to two hours, which means the top cop (Anoop Menon) and his team do not get to exchange lengthy assumptions about the ‘direction of the case.’

The intrigue is carried from frame to frame and the narrative rarely flags. The problem is with the Elimination Round. When the suspicion, and the camera, lingers on a flustered face, one almost waits for that suspect to be eliminated and the next one to be summoned. For, it is clear that the villain will emerge only in the last five minutes. That is the price to pay for sticking to well-worn tracks.

With the plot holding the upper hand, the actors need not slog. Menon’s probe team turns out smartly and goes through the motions. Tini Tom gets his quota of one-liners, Jishnu’s expression stays stony throughout, and Meghna Raj mostly attends phone calls. Kailash plays a small but vital part. Shankar, Munna, Vijay Menon, and Sudheesh figure on the suspect list, and Ashokan does an interesting cameo.

The mystery is slow-cooked, garnished well. The hitch is, the same old smell fails to whet appetite.

Smitha Pylee