Movies

‘Keedam’ movie review: A discourse on the ethical concerns around surveillance and cybersecurity

A still from ‘Keedam’

A still from ‘Keedam’

Assumptions on what the title Keedam (Pest) signifies can be misleading as far as this movie goes. Chances are that one would assume the title to be pointing at one of the villainous elements in the movie. But, as it turns out, it is a term that a set of dangerous antagonists use to describe the protagonist Radhika Balan (Rajisha Vijayan), a cybersecurity expert. And, then you begin to see the term in a new light and context.

Radhika, who heads a start-up, is an expert at her job, but ethics reign supreme for her. Her introduction scene itself is meant to underline this point. A wealthy client has walked in with a demand to snoop the personal communications of his wife to bolster his divorce case. Despite the money on offer, which is huge for a fledgling start-up, she refuses to take up the job. Yet, this resolve crumbles when she is faced with a bunch of goons, who would go to any lengths to put her and her father Balan (Sreenivasan), a retired lawyer, in trouble.

Keedam
Director: Rahul Riji Nair
Cast: Rajisha Vijayan, Sreenivasan

Director Rahul Riji Nair had made a promising debut a few years ago with Ottamuri Velicham, following it up with some variety fare; some of which worked, while others did not. The writing of Keedam has clearly been motivated by concerns around surveillance and cybersecurity. As one of the characters in the movie says, this is a time when even governments are accused of snooping.

But it seems the filmmaker leans towards the idea that hacking and surveillance need not always be ethical, if the purpose is virtuous and the ones who are being snooped upon are criminal elements. The question of what if the same powers of surveillance are possessed by the criminal elements or those in power with evil intentions do not get explored here, because it is always the good humans and well-intentioned police officers who have snooping powers in the movie.

In reality, that is not necessarily the case; the unlimited power that the ones with surveillance tools have over those being snooped upon are clearly showcased.

Setting aside the ethical part, the movie can be viewed positively as one woman’s valiant fightback, using her own tools, against a group of thugs who intrude into her personal space. But, after the high attained at the halfway point, when she begins the fight back, the script does not take it any further, choosing to travel along the usual predictable path. It only retains that connection with cybersecurity and surveillance till the last point.

In the end, the audience is left with the question as to whether the title Keedam has a negative or positive connotation. The answer depends on where you stand on the question of unlimited surveillance; the context is not always not so black-and-white, as it is in the movie.

Keedam is currently running in theatres


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Printable version | May 25, 2022 1:40:13 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/keedam-movie-review-a-discourse-on-the-ethical-concerns-around-surveillance-and-cybersecurity/article65439369.ece