Of self-righteous policing

Updated - February 07, 2016 05:47 am IST

Published - February 07, 2016 12:00 am IST

Action Hero Biju is a collection of cases that an average police officer has to deal with.

Action Hero Biju is a collection of cases that an average police officer has to deal with.

Film: Action Hero Biju

Starring: Nivin Pauly, Anu Emmanuel, Suraj


Direction: Abrid Shine

For a star in his ascendancy, the role of a police officer is more or less a must, once he has cemented his next-door-boy image. The grind is a must for superstardom. So you don the khaki, mouth punch dialogues, bash up underworld dons, lecture corrupt politicians and play the role of a saviour of society.

But Abrid Shine had other plans for Nivin Pauly in his second directorial Action Hero Biju . sub-inspector Biju Poulose (Nivin) has no arch villain to fight, no feuds with politicians and no high-profile cases to investigate. He just has to do everyday policing. In other words, there is nothing cinematic for him to do.

The police officer deals in petty crimes most of the time. His world is filled with chain snatchers, pan masala sellers, drunken exhibitionists and ganja dealers. For much of the time, the camera stays inside the police station, as he handles case after case,sometimes with a sly smile, at times raising his voice, and on rare occasions slipping into third degree torture using a coconut rolled up inside a cloth.

There is no ‘story’ here in the conventional sense of the term. Rather, it is a collection of cases that an average police officer has to deal with. The characters who play the cameo roles elevate the film, be it Suraj Venjaramoodu’s touching act or that of a drunken man who sings at the police station and the two women who complain about an exhibitionist.

But all of that is spoilt at regular intervals by politically incorrect and shamefully regressive dialogues, from a simplistic bashing of all human rights activists to crude racial comments on a woman’s appearance and a distastefully inaccurate portrayal of a transgender. Although it all could be explained away as part of the realistic portrayal of a police officer, to see an young influential star saying those lines and drawing applause from the young crowd, is disturbing.

It also projects as the truth Kerala police’s popular misconception that Bob Marley is somehow related to ‘ganja’.

The entire police force is presented as being filled with good souls. The one-sided portrayal of the police glosses over reports of atrocities committed by the men in uniform. Torture and extra-judicial measures are condoned as the need of the times. It stops short of glorifying encounter killing.Surveillance is portrayed as a 'heroic' activity when he drops in on the private conversations of a man to his lover.At those times, it reduces itself to an advertisement for the police establishment. This film should settle all the controversy surrounding Nivin’s previous release Premam , which was accused of ‘misleading’ Malayali youth. The Nivin of Premam would most certainly have invited a thrashing or even arrest from the Nivin of Action Hero Biju . That indeed is the tragedy of this otherwise well-crafted film.

S.R. Praveen

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