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Review Malayalam

Maalik review: Predictable but rousing story of a patriarch’s rise and fall

Release Date: 03 Aug 2021 / Rated: U

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Haricharan Pudipeddi

Cut from the same cloth as Nayakan (1987) and Sarkar (2005), Fahadh Faasil’s Maalik isn't just the story of a guy who takes to crime and goes on to become a messiah for his people.

A lot of what you see in Mahesh Narayanan’s predictable but largely engaging Maalik, a rousing story of a patriarch’s rise and fall, has been made and seen before. Yet, what makes this Fahadh Faasil film stand out is the way it is narrated and the top-notch performances from an ensemble cast.

Cut from the same cloth as films like Nayakan (1987) and Sarkar (2005), Maalik tells the story of Sulaiman Malik, whose rise in the fight against political corruption involving his people from a coastal village makes for an interesting watch.

Maalik isn’t a straightforward story about a guy who takes to crime and goes on to become a messiah for his people. It’s a gangster drama with strong political underpinnings. It also talks smartly about religion, corporatization and communal tension, among other things, to make this story gripping despite its length.

The story follows Sulaiman Malik (another masterclass in acting from Fahadh Faasil) and how he rises to become the patriarch in his coastal village. The story pans through a few decades in the life of Malik — from his childhood to middle age and till the point where he decides to quit everything to lead a peaceful life. However, fate wills otherwise and Malik’s life takes a detour when he is finally sent to judicial custody.

The story of Malik and his rise is told through three characters, each offering a different perspective. Although a narrative style borrowed from Kamal Haasan’s Virumaandi (2004), it is an interesting way to narrate this tale of crime and politics. With each version, we get to understand Malik more. The way the layers of his character are peeled off with each story makes rooting for his character even more justifiable. It is tough to shake off the Nayakan hangover, but even with the heavy influences of the Mani Ratnam classic, Maalik has much to offer. This is a film that you can’t write off so easily.

One of the major subplots of the film is loosely based on the Beemapally riots of 2009, in which police fired at will to create communal tension. This incident is very similar to the Kodiyankulam caste riots of 1995. Mahesh Narayanan beautifully weaves together this subplot to make a strong statement on the communal violence that is still prevalent in Kerala. The filmmaker walks a tightrope while telling a fictional story that has controversial events inspired from true incidents.

Apart from the plot, it is the cinematography that really makes an impact in Maalik. The opening 12-minute single-shot sequence is something that will linger for a while. It has been shot in a way that you don’t even realize so much time has gone into building the opening scene.

Maalik is Fahadh Faasil’s show and he is brilliant all the way. But you also get some strong performances from Vinay Forrt, Dileesh Pothan and Nimisha Sajayan. The scenes between Fahadh and Nimisha are some of the film’s most tender as well as most stressful moments.

Maalik is now available on Amazon Prime Video.


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