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Garudan Movie Review: An engrossing thriller with a terrific finale

3rd Nov 2023 05:45 PM | Vignesh Madhu

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It has been a while since Suresh Gopi and Biju Menon acted together. 12 years to be precise. In these 12 years, Biju Menon's career saw a total revamp, while Suresh Gopi went through a lull phase before coming back with full force. Strangely enough, their characters in Garudan also tread a similar journey. Pitted against each other in equally prominent roles, the two seasoned performers keep us guessing who the Garudan in the title is. But only for the makers to spring a last-minute surprise...

Debutant director Arun Varma wastes no time to get into the plot. On a rainy night, a college student gets kidnapped and sexually assaulted. The brutal nature of the crime creates tremors in the state, with the government under severe pressure. The police search in darkness for months before going for a fruitful "long shot"— an outrageous one. They zero in on a culprit, gather evidence and produce a foolproof chargesheet to ensure he's held guilty. But what's a thriller without a twist? What initially seemed like an open-and-shut case gets reopened years later leading to some startling revelations.


Cast: Suresh Gopi, Biju Menon, Thalaivasal Vijay, Siddique

Director: Arun Varma

Garudan has its story written by Jinesh, and screenplay by Midhun Manuel Thomas. While making legal thrillers/courtroom dramas, particularly in a commercial cinema format, there always arises a question about the authenticity of the proceedings. It's a major challenge for filmmakers to capture it all considering how agonisingly slow the Indian judicial system is. But it can be manoeuvred to a large extent with effective usage of cinematic liberties. However, Garudan gets too hasty, especially in the retrial where everything, from the hearing to witness examination to judgement is needlessly hurried. On the brighter side, it leads to an effective interval block and sets things up nicely for a gripping second half.

Dissecting a film into two halves and assessing it through that lens is essential these days, particularly when the makers themselves seem to have a similar approach. It is quite evident in how the lead actors are positioned in the narrative. Suresh Gopi's Hareesh Madhav is a no-nonsense, forthright cop—a character that the veteran has aced numerous times in his career. Like his character in this film often says, "Once a cop, always a cop".

Though the film doesn't deviate a lot to celebrate the 'firebrand SG', you know he's a superstar and will get his moments, which kind of takes away the script's unpredictability factor. Biju Menon, on the other hand, is blessed to have no such image associated with him. A brilliant casting choice, Biju Menon, with his subdued performance, adds different layers to the character, Nishanth. It would've been more interesting to see his dynamics with his wife, played by Divya Pillai. Among the others, it is Jagadish who delivers the most compelling performance, despite the limited screen time. The veteran has been brilliant with his choices lately.

Some of Arun Varma's filmmaking choices in Garudan deserve appreciation like not opting to show any of the assault scenes. Without going for graphic visuals, the director is able to achieve the thrills with judicious use of music (Jakes Bejoy). However, he falters with the visual treatment as cinematographer Ajay David Kachappilly's excessive use of colours to underline a scene's mood tends to get too distracting. But fortunately, it all comes together wonderfully in the film's all-important final reveal. The writing, staging and even the performance in that scene remind heavily of Indrans' terrific cameo in Anjaam Pathiraa, also scripted by Midhun. Anything more would be a spoiler, so let's stop right there.

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Tags : Garudan
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