'Golam' movie review: Passable whodunit with borrowed ideas

To give credit where it is due, what this film lacks in effective writing and a compelling lead actor is compensated to some extent by debutant Samjad’s slick narration.
'Golam' movie review: Passable whodunit with borrowed ideas

KOCHI: Golam, helmed by debutant Samjad, begins with ASP Sandeep Krishna (Ranjith Sajeev) returning to his house on a rainy night, seemingly after apprehending some criminals. To establish his bravado as a macho cop who does not shy away from action, we hear a phone conversation he has with one of his subordinates. The latter goes on to suggest that superiors usually issue orders without getting their hands dirty. In hindsight, this prologue perhaps foreshadows that the lead investigator—Sandeep—in this whodunit, blatantly borrowed from an Agatha Christie classic, is no Poirot as he leans more towards brawn over brains.

The film then immediately cuts to a montage song that introduces us to a diverse group of people working at an IT firm in Kochi. It follows every single one of them’s morning routine until they reach their workspace. Also, we are soon introduced to their boss, Issac John (Dileesh Pothan), who exudes an unmistakable air of arrogance in his words and actions. This entire segment, focused on the office, gains newfound significance much later in the film when things start becoming predictable from its perfunctory interval point. It is then that Siddique’s character begins to unravel the mystery surrounding John’s untimely death inside the office washroom during working hours.

Golam features a wide array of supporting characters, all potential suspects, but you end up feeling distanced from their trials and tribulations. Unlike the lead actor, it is not to say that the ensemble of actors was a complete failure, as many of them were adequately functional. Alencier Ley Lopez repeats his act from Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum (2017), albeit in a superficial manner. While Siddique sleepwalks through his role, delivering the kind of expository monologues that are safe in his hands, Chinnu Chandni is marginally impressive in her emotional sequences. Following Turbo, Dileesh Pothan’s unexceptional performance here is another reminder that the audience badly misses him seeing on the director’s chair.

Golam’s screenplay, co-written by Praveen Viswanath and Samjad, attempts to depict Sandeep as a sleuth extraordinaire, but this characterisation falls flat as the revelations are handed to him on a platter, making it almost effortless for him to piece together the puzzle in the end. Ranjith Sajeev’s consistently stoic expressions and one-note delivery of dialogue, too, do not help the cause, despite his well-built physique fitting the role of a cinematic police officer perfectly. As the film delves into the motive behind the crime in its latter half, it transforms into a fairy-tale revenge story involving conspiracy theories and potential global repercussions related to the workings of big pharmaceutical companies.

To give credit where it is due, what Golam lacks in effective writing and a compelling lead actor is compensated to some extent by debutant Samjad’s slick narration. Also, the film does not overstay its welcome, thanks to a judicious runtime of just about two hours. Aby Salvin Thomas’s loud-yet-pulsating score also helps to salvage the familiarity of its proceedings.

There seems to be a growing trend of ending Malayalam crime thrillers with the hint of a sequel, with Abraham Ozler and Thalavan being some of the recent examples. These epilogues usually have little connection to the central plot of the film. While Golam is no exception to this, the film at least concludes with a passage directly tied to the core plot, even if it hardly leaves you wanting more.

Agatha Christie’s mystery thrillers are precious primarily because of their ingenious plotting and nuanced characters. Golam, while lifting the legendary writer’s ideas, lacks those qualities even if it ends up as a passable affair.

Film: Golam

Cast: Ranjith Sajeev, Siddique, Dileesh Pothan, Alencier Ley Lopez, Chinnu Chandni

Director: Samjad

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

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