‘Garudan’ movie review: An effective thriller that needed more layered writing

‘Garudan’, starring Suresh Gopi and Biju Menon, is helped by a strong story but its overall treatment from director Arun Varma leaves us wanting

November 03, 2023 05:55 pm | Updated 06:42 pm IST

Suresh Gopi in ‘Garudan’

Suresh Gopi in ‘Garudan’ | Photo Credit: Magic Frames/YouTube

Under immense pressure to solve high-profile cases, police officers often opt for drastic measures. Early on in Garudan, Harish Madhav (Suresh Gopi), leading an investigation of a brutal rape of a college student, orders an outlandish DNA profiling and matching plan to track down the culprit. Curiously, that sudden brainwave also becomes the trigger that would solve the case, though unconvincingly and for the time being. Considering how the story shifts later, it appears as if the director used the idea in a convenient manner.

Arun Varma’s debut directorial, Garudan, is filled with such contrivances and some old-fashioned narrative tricks, like the protagonist listing out to the culprit his entire history of crime. But, when there are compelling reasons to overlook contrived sequences, one chooses to do so, as it happens here. For, M.Jinesh’s story and Midhun Manuel Thomas’s script have enough in them to keep us intrigued for much of the run-time, even when we can sense how it will all turn out in the end, from miles away.

The writer choosing the easy way out of the tangle on multiple occasions is somewhat disappointing. The script progresses as a battle of wits in which the tables keep turning, landing the audience in a dilemma. By the halfway point, the narrative reaches a situation that could have been considered a proper way to end the movie. That would have matched the story most viewers would have imagined from the seemingly revealing trailers.

Garudan (Malayalam)
Director: Arun Varma
Cast: Suresh Gopi, Biju Menon, Abhirami, Divya Pillai, Thalaivasal Vijay, Dileesh Pothan, Jayan Cherthala, Nishanth Sagar
Runtime: 140 minutes
Storyline: A police officer believes he has caught the culprit in a high profile case, but the fight for justice is only about to begin.

But, the real work of the writers starts from that point, although after a while, we get enough hints as to how it will end, despite which it works. When the script is not focusing on the investigation, it attempts to get us invested in the personal stories of the principal characters.

For one, there is a much-revered police officer facing a difficult time just after his retirement, and on the other side, there is someone struggling to prove his innocence. We also keep going back to the emotional toll on the rape survivor’s father, who is battling Alzheimer’s and unable to let go of his daughter, caught in coma. Some of this drama adds to the emotional heft of the investigation, while quite a lot of it ends up as poorly written melodrama with stock dialogues.

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Midhun Manuel Thomas does not manage to create the kind of taut screenplay that he had for his own directorial Anjaam Pathiraa. Despite all this, if Garudan manages to keep on flying, it is only due to the strength of the story at its core, although one wishes things were a bit more convincing.

Garudan is currently running in theatres

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