Mahesh Narayanan’s MALIK is as grand in its ambition and as dazzling in its execution, as the marvelously crafted single take 13 minute long opening shot of the film. By the time the film’s title card shows up at the end of that shot, Narayanan has sealed in your attention and admiration for what will follow for the next two and a half hours of his film.
What transpires post that is a gorgeously mounted and meticulously executed larger than life saga of love, friendship, betrayal, search for identity, ambitions, morals, social divides, lawlessness, crime, violence, religion, hatred, police atrocities and politics spanning over decades and leaving behind so much of ruins and wailing in its trail. Yes, the beats are predictable, the tropes aren’t unique, the Godfather template is known, the length is possibly a tad too stretched, the pace of the film at times makes it difficult to completely follow the conversation at one go as one is following the subtitles; but nothing of this weighs down heavily on the film because the craft is so spectacular, the storytelling is so compelling, the world created is so believably lived in, and the performances are so pitch perfect. With Malik, Malayalam cinema reinforces that cinema is much larger than just what the content is, and continues its richly deserved dominating run of making the best films of the country today, irrespective of the genre, style or type of the film; and ultimately wowing the audience with everything it has to offer from all round technical brilliance (especially cinematography and music for this film), to superbly written characters we all know and equally powerful enactments of them.
Vinay Forrt, Dileesh Pothan, Joju Goerge, Jalaja and the rest of the ensemble are all brilliant in their supporting performances, and Nimisha Sajayan only pushes her own bar of awe and admiration further up through yet another spectacular camouflaging performance. The gravitas that she brings in every character she plays only keeps improving film after film. But the film ultimately belongs to the beyond amazing Fahadh Faasil, and Malik may be his immortal Nayakan that gives him the opportunity to play multiple characters with a dynamic range of emotional maturity, character shades and depth in the same film over various life stages, and no prizes for guessing that he nails down every single bit of it with flawless precision. His portrayal especially of the aging Suleiman will possibly go down as one of the finest he has ever delivered in his dazzling career, and it takes a chameleon of his calibre to dissolve himself so seamlessly in the world that Narayanan creates and wants Faasil to bring to life. For a world that is so cacophonic and angry as Malik, Fahadh Faasil’s restrained minimalism does wonders to ground Suleiman and humanize him to be the soul of the film. Joji and then Malik – what a year it has been for Fahadh Faasil, and we almost know that he will even better this soon enough. Hats off!
Thank you Mahesh Narayanan and Team for this rich and very engaging epic saga. The power of cinema lies in how one can take the time and again repeated themes of crime, punishment, betrayal and redemption, and still package them into an experience that is highly entertaining, thought provoking and soul searching at the same time. All this while staying very massy in approach and accessibility, and so larger than life in its potboiler ambition. Malik is tailor-made for the largest screen theatre experience with dolby digital sound, and hopefully when things get back to normal, the cinema lover will have a chance to relive that experience now robbed off.
Blockbuster commercial cinema be like Malik !
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