Vampire Owl: This man might be familiar to us.
Vampire Bat: I am sure that he is not the kind of night rider whom we can call here.
Vampire Owl: But he is surely an owl like me.
Vampire Bat: Well, you have to check for the meaning which is intended here.
Vampire Owl: I decide the meaning around here for all owls.
Vampire Bat: They belong to a different world though.
Vampire Owl: Yes, the world which goes for terrible evil while pretending to be good.
Vampire Bat: You mean like Mr Frankenstein.
Vampire Owl: Dr Frankenstein has always been a decent man.
Vampire Bat: Chucky has been more decent than him.
[Gets a choco-marble cake and three glasses of orange juice].
What is the movie about? :: Civil Police Officer Giri Shankar (Asif Ali) is a respected member of the police station in the village of Nedumpara who is known for finding those clues to the cases which nobody else is able to find. Circle Inspector Soman Pillai (Renji Panicker) and Sub Inspector Sukumaran (Meghanathan) appreciate his skills as a young detective, but not everyone in the police station likes him showing better skills than the rest. The others feel that all the focus on him means that they mostly go unnoticed, despite doing some good job as expected from them. Despite his skills which can be put to good use, Giri is also an egoistic individual, who becomes angry for simple reasons and holds grudges against people as if his life depends on taking revenge on them. He is that kind of a person who could become a psychotic serial killer bigger than the ones whom he might catch in his long career as the policeman which is to follow. He would get enough advice from his senior officers, but that would not bring that much of a change on him.
So, what happens with the events here as we just keep looking? :: As Soman retires, the new Circle Inspector is Harilal Dev (Baburaj), and the situation becomes tense between him and Giri. As Harilal pushes him into the dirt in front of his childhood friend Lakshmi (Hannah Reji Koshy), Giri becomes really angry, and promises himself that he would have his vengeance against Harilal one way or the other. But that would take some time as his other opponents include Thampi (Baiju) and Suresh (Deepak Parambol) among a few more. To deal with the policemen, he seeks the help of the retired thief Maniyan (Jaffar Idukki). They decide to make the police circle feel the heat by increasing the crime rate. As more and more robberies happen in the area, Harilal feels the pressure, and Giri feels that he can nicely manipulate the situation to get back on his opponents. But as he takes one wrong step due to his ego, things go out of control. He understands that it is not really about him, as there are some other forces at work. There are deaths, and he needs to get to the bottom of a number of deaths which have happened in the last few years.
The defence of Kooman :: The movie works really well with its flawed hero who blends in to the situation with ease. The first half sets up things really well to that the second one which brings the mystery further. The weaknesses of the hero are explored well, but it does not bring the villainy to him, as he walks through the thin bridge that connects the two sides. It reminds one of the films like Salute which moves slowly with the protagonist who finds it difficult to solve cases due to his own limitations. The elements of darkness is nicely used, and there are enough red herrings around here to mislead those who make the guesses. The final twist gets another one attached to it, and the revelation reasserts that there is more than what meets the eye around here. As it points to something which has made the headlines in Kerala, the movie seems to have some prophetic skills too, with a release having a two week gap after the incidents became part of the television discussions.
Positives and negatives :: This movie is not for those people of the mass masala who who wishes to make all the nonsense happen on the big screen in the form action mass masala disguised as thrillers with all the dumbness. But it has managed be of better intellect in comparison. It does makes one feel that there is the need to explore the past of the protagonist further. Maybe, in a distanct future, some of these police officers in Jeethu Joseph’s universe played by Asif Ali, Prithviraj Sukumaran and Suresh Gopi could come together to investigate a case in a realistic manner, unlike the Bollywood cop universes where people fly around for reason and gravity gets no chance to prove its existence – much to the dismay of Newton. It is a fine relief that on this side, we have movies like Kooman which keeps its world realistic. We can always feel safe when a movie like this is taken at this corner of the country, and for those who want such films to happen elsewhere, would have the remake option to mint some money. Still, this might feel a little too lengthy in the absence of humour, and the robbery element gets a little overdose.
The performers of the soul :: Asif Ali gets a much different role to perform, and it can be seen that he embraces the changes to perfection. He was caught on the wrong side in Innale Vare, and this time, he is on that side where he can dictate terms, even though while staying within the struggles of a well-written character, the policeman with flaws, something the director created well with his another classic thriller, Memories. When we look at further performances, Hannah Reji Koshy has been a much underrated actress, someone who is capable of coming up with some big performances – she had supported well in Darvinte Parinamam, Theerpu and Rakshadhikari Baiju Oppu, something which she does nicely in this film too. Renji Panicker plays the likable police officer with ease, and it comes as no problem for someone like him. Jaffar Idukki continues to make an impression in supporting roles, and here we have no exception to him leaving a mark. Baburaj and Meghanathan are not far behind in being part of some moments to remember.
How it finishes :: After 12th Man which did not reach the director’s usual level, Jeethu Joseph gets strong with the genre of thrills and mysteries yet again, outside Drishyam 2 and its remake of Drushyam 2, creating something to remember outside the franchise which created the magic like no other. Kooman is a solid work which gets to the list of interesting investigative thrillers with ease. Even though Jeethu Joseph has not written the script in this case, there are high quality thriller elements still present here. I would feel that there are more indigenous elements elements added here. With its thrills, the movie is close to enough to horror and also connected to some of the incidents which were reported in news recently, making it having further contemporary relevance in this part of the world than one would think about it. There serves the reminder that even in the modern world, there will be people who are rooted in the ancient and the supernatural, which always find a way to reach the present with all the strength.
Release date: 2nd December 2022 (Amazon Prime Video); 4th November 2022 (Theatre)
Running time: 153 minutes
Directed by: Jeethu Joseph
Starring: Asif Ali, Hannah Reji Koshy, Baburaj, Renji Panicker, Baiju, Meghanathan, Pauly Valsan, Nandhu, Rajesh Paravoor, Karate Karthi, Adam Ayub, Deepak Parambol, Jaffar Idukki, Jayan Cherthala, Vinod Bose, Prasant Murali, Riyas Narmakala, Abhiram Pothuval, George Maryan, Ramesh Thilak, Pradeep Kottayam
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.