The Malayalam movie Garudan is directed by Arun Varma and stars Suresh Gopi, Biju Menon, Thalaivasal Vijay, Abhirami, Divya Pillai, Dileesh Pothan, Siddique, Jayan Cherthala, Nishanth Sagar
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Suresh Gopi in khaki. It sets your pulse rising and adrenaline pumping. For, he has done some of the most memorable and interesting roles as a cop in mainstream Malayalam movies. The man has a mien that is made for the police uniform. So when you heard that he was playing another cop role in Garudan, you were prepared for another slam-bang hi-jinks.
But what Garudan does instead is provide a slow-burn thriller, battle of wits, and Suresh Gopi in one of those atypical cop roles. In that, he is (relatively) subdued. Perhaps the debutant director Arun Varma considered Suresh Gopi’s age and the perimeter due to it. In any case, SP Harish Madhav, the role that Suresh Gopi plays, is close to retirement. Hence, he is less of brawn and more of wisdom and wile, the two qualities needed to take on his on-screen adversary, Professor Nishanth, who is a smart cookie with a never-say-die spirit. Nishanth, played by Biju Menon, with his typical elan, pits the cop in a relentless battle. It is an immovable object against irresistible force kind of battle — in a spirit reminiscent of Biju’s even more stellar movie Ayyappanum Koshiyum. Though Garudan lacks AK’s raw intensity, it is no less emotionally charged. It is worth remembering that Garudan marks the reunion of Suresh Gopi and Biju Menon after 13 years. They were previously cast in the 2011 film Christian Brothers.
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Police arrest Professor Nishanth for the rape of a college student named Teressa. The team headed by Harish manages to get the professor seven years imprisonment. The professor studies law in jail and comes out after his term and wages a legal battle against Harish for improper investigation. The legal fight between the two, with segues into DNA testing and allied stuff, makes for an exciting watch. It is an area that is hardly touched in Indian films.
The story and the script move at the required pace till it hits the climactic stages, where it all feels rushed and unconvincing. But Garudan works for the most part thanks to the solidity of Suresh Gopi and Biju Menon. The two veterans are in fine fettle and bring to their different roles a rare panache that comes with experience. Both are used to the cat-and-mouse thriller trope and feed off each other. The rest of the cast is adequate. But none of them has anything.
The film, which is both a legal thriller and police procedural, slips into some melodrama towards the end, which is what becomes its undoing. But the debutant director shows maturity in the earlier portions, giving the film an agreeable feel all through.
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An engineer-turned-journalist, K Balakumar’s career began in print publications as a sports writer. That also opened doors for other journalistic avenues like films, music, finance, technology and politics, which nobody can escape in India. After 30 yrs in mainstream journalism, now a freelancer for various digital publications.