The film opens with a 10 minute long introduction to Sulaiman aka Alli Ikka, the malik/godfather of a small fishing town Ramadapally. In a mansion full of his village men waiting to meet him, he sits in a quite demeanor preparing to withdraw and travel to Hajj for pilgrimage. Prepared to surrender to god, or to law whatever comes first. This unhurried introduction sets the tone for the unfolding of Sulaiman’s story of rise to power.
On the face of it, the film follows a textbook narrative to any such godfather movies. An uneducated young boy resorting to petty crimes for small money who is supported by men in power for their own good. But this story is not about predictability. The eventful and intense progress of the fate of Sulaiman, tied to the fate of Ramdapally keeps you extremely engaged. Sulaiman is witty, strong headed and committed to the good of his village. A village that has a mixed population of both minorities. In a beautiful scene Sulaiman with his bf David sits on hilltop watching a statue of Jesus with open arms faced towards a mosque. His dreams of a peaceful and progressive livelihood lies between these two. But then Politics happens.
This is where the story gets action packed. It gives a brave and unfiltered view of how spineless politicians use people of both faiths against each other, manipulate their vulnerability and encourage riots in a town that had no communist hate to start with.
Fahaadh Fassil as Ali Ikka is flawless. It is phenomenal how he commands power amidst a crowd of bulky looking men, despite his small frame. There is an entire emotional journey that this character goes through, and he excels at it in every single scene. But to say that he carries the entire film alone on his shoulders would be wrong. And this is where I have come to appreciate Malayalam cinema even more. It is not about the hero. There is no compromise on defining each character, and the casting is perfect. Nimisha Sajayan as Roselyn is equally fierce. She is the pillar of strength behind Sulaiman but also stands her own ground. Vinay Fort as David plays the most critical character with such finesse, with all his vulnerabilities and flaws he brings alive David to be the most believable character.
Another thing to admire about Malayalam cinema is its cinematography. Everything is designed to support the intension of the movie and never disturb it. The camera and the bg score move in sync with the narrative making it even more impactful.
The only thing one can complain about is the length, and that too because we aren’t used to sitting through 3 hour movies anymore. But this one has a lot to tell and none of it felt unnecessary.
It is powerful, thought provoking and also manages to be a mass entertainer at the same time. Should make it to the list of best political dramas.
Going with 4.5/5