Malik Review: Just short of being a masterpiece

In the last few years, Malayalam filmmakers have pushed the envelope like no one else and Fahadh Faasil has become the unofficial brand ambassador of this new-age cinematic revolution. That is the reason, every new film of Fahadh is eagerly awaited expecting a fresh subject taking it further, offering some pleasant, path-breaking surprises. However, the latest is a mixed bag with thankfully more positives resulting in a satisfying watch.

Written, edited, and directed by Mahesh Narayanan, Malik solely revolves around Fahadh’s character of an influential don, the poor man’s messiah, who is powerful enough to stand against police and politicians, safeguarding his people. A well-written layered film showcasing two time periods, Malik is a neatly directed project conceived and presented as an epic. Gradually moving ahead narrating the present and back-story of its protagonist, it has a definitive structure focusing on multiple characters and relationships between two communities of different religions. The messiah fights against their exploitation by the local police and politicians, and pays the price for it too, finally facing his Karma.

Taking inspiration from the real-life events (including the Tsunami), Malik has its share of bloodshed besides some relevant religious references of instigated riots revealing the cruel reality of our corrupt system. The writer-director presents his point impressively extracting brilliant performances from the entire cast and Fahadh yet again proves his calibre as an exceptionally gifted performer. Standing tall in the frame, both Nimisha Sajayan and Joju George equally excel in their acts and they certainly are the two other actors from Malayalam cinema simply on a roll.

A technically well-crafted film, Malik has outstanding cinematography by Sanu John Varghese (don’t miss the opening sequence) and a subtly composed background score by Sushin Shyam, contributing as two unseen characters of the script. And it is from this specific perspective of craft, message, and performances that Malik can surely be rated as a must-see mega venture shot in a grand style.

Having said that, where at one end the film excels in its overall presentation, it offers nothing fresh or novel in terms of content being yet another polished and politically aware version of Godfather or Nayakan. Progressing on a similar pattern of storytelling, one keeps recalling various sequences of Mani Ratnam’s classic while watching Malik post the flashbacks begins narrating the life story of Ali Ikka. That is also where the disappointment creeps in, particularly for the viewers who were expecting something fresh and distinctive, other than the familiar seen before drama (including myself).

Hence, Malik might be a masterpiece for the ones who are willing to ignore this drawback, focusing solely on the craft and performances. But for the viewers expecting more, this probably would be a fine watch that could have been a lot better in a less stretched version.

Film: Malik (Malayalam)

Cast: Fahadh Faasil, Nimisha Sajayan, Joju George

Director: Mahesh Narayanan

Platform: Amazon Prime Video

Rating: 3.5 stars

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