Language: Malayalam

Director: Saiju SS

Cast: Unni Mukundan, Gokul Suresh, Mia George, Alencier Ley Lopez

Ira (Prey), directed by Saiju SS, opens on a dramatic note. A politician named Chandy (Alencier Ley Lopez) is wheeled into a hospital. A few minutes later, a doctor declares, “Minister is no more.” The news channels explode. There are allegations of corruption! There may be a Maoist hand! The Kerala police are under pressure to crack the case, because there’s a parallel investigation by a central agency. A doctor named Aryan (Gokul Suresh) is arrested, but the chief investigator (Rajiv, played by Unni Mukundan) thinks it’s someone else. Does the nearby tribal community – with a convenient love interest in the form of Karthika (Mia George) – hold the answer? What about Aryan’s lecherous boss? The premise is more nail-biting than this crude melodrama.

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When the first paragraph of a review is a mere recapitulation of the story, it’s usually a sign that the film is a dud, that nothing evocative can be written about it. And yet, Ira made me very happy. The Malayalam films that get released outside of Kerala are usually so good – or at least, with a certain quality in ambition – that it’s a relief to know that, there too, we have comedy where someone says “tumour” for “Uber,” or “Goa” for “coma.” There, too, we have broad, stage-play acting where the performers just stop short of sending smoke signals. There, too, a man with protruding teeth and iffy English is automatically deemed funny. There, too, the screenwriters can devise such scenes as the one where a recording device is secretly placed near a suspect, who immediately spills all secrets at one go. Phew! Malayalam cinema is human too.

Rating:   star

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