‘Purusha Pretham’ movie review: Krishand’s delightful genre blender picks up momentum in second half

The humorous narrative of ‘Purusha Pretham’ packs a punch as it holds a mirror to the discrimination and red-tapism in the hierarchical police force and in society at large

Updated - March 24, 2023 03:26 pm IST

Published - March 24, 2023 01:05 pm IST

A still from ‘Purusha Pretham’

A still from ‘Purusha Pretham’ | Photo Credit: Kiran VS

A decomposed, unidentified corpse of a man is buried in a swampy region in Kochi. Little do the policemen involved imagine that the corpse would come back to haunt them for days together when Susan (Darshana Rajendran) insists that the body was that of her missing husband.

Purusha Pretham, Krishand’s third feature, is a police procedural story that has never been seen before in Malayalam cinema; an investigative thriller with interesting twists and turns, but laced with humour in every frame. A genre-blender, Purusha Pretham is a satire that is also a neo-noir investigative story.

What makes it special is that it is not just another thriller or whodunit. Purusha Pretham shows up close the working and living conditions of the rank and file of the police force — their standard of living, the emotional stress they go through and the highhandedness of senior police officers who pull rank at every opportunity. The subtle references to caste discrimination in the police surfaces in a few well-woven sequences.

Purusha Pretham (Malayalam)
Director: Krishand
Cast: Prasanth Alexander, Jagadish, Darshana Rajendran, Devaki Rajendran, Jeo Baby, Sreejith Babu, Geethi Sangeetha, Rahul Rajagopal, Zhins Shan
Runtime: 152 minutes
Storyline: Super Sebastian, a sub-inspector at Chelanallur police station, takes charge of the case of an unidentified male body. The case gets complicated when Susan insists that the body is that of her missing husband’s

So, Super Sebastian (Prasanth Alexander), a sub-inspector at Chelanallur police station, has the reputation of being a ruthless policeman. Subsequently, it is revealed that he is a diehard braggart with a penchant for narrating tall tales about himself. But at home, he is an efficient caretaker of his bedridden mother, cooking for her and keeping house for her even while constantly ignoring her verbal abuse. Constable Dileep (Jagadish) is lower in the police hierarchy but at home, the widower’s cramped official quarters is home to his daughter and her husband. The subplots and parallel threads in the narrative throw light on the multiple personalities of the main characters. The director cleverly connects the early references to their personal lives to the core of the film and the narrative never deviates from the main plot of unearthing the identity of the male corpse.

The helplessness of the marginalised and their lack of faith in the system underline the theme of the narrative. They fear the police but do not think highly of them. Interspersed with the narrative are paper cuttings of the number of unidentified bodies that surface every year, especially those of migrant labourers.

The challenge for the police is to identify the dead body. Susan’s insistence on claiming it as that of her husband’s flummoxes the police who suspect she has something to hide. The first half of the film revolves around the complicated personal lives of Sebastian and Dileep. Susan’s appearance is the catalyst that speeds up the narrative and keeps viewers on the edge. The rap music in the movie enhances the visual effect of the film. However, the subtitles deserved more attention.

Prasanth aces it as the bumbling cop desperately seeking a break. He confidently showcases the many faces of the character. Veteran Jagadish is in his element as Dileep, Sebastian’s subordinate. Darshana shines as Susan and keeps us guessing about her motive although her screen time is less than the others. Devaki comes up with a superb act as Sujatha, Sebastian’s partner. Jeo Baby as Sebastian’s superior is delightful and so is James Eliya appearing as Susan’s advocate and Mala Parvathi as a public prosecutor. Sreejith Babu, Geethi Sangeetha, Rahul Rajagopal and Zhins Shan are also in the cast.

The strength of Krishand’s third film is its narrative and visual storytelling which is loaded with humour. Even while taking on patriarchy, chauvinism, graft and discrimination, Purusha Pretham is a delightful watch on account of its different narrative.

Purusha Pretham is streaming on SonyLIV

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