Kurup Malayalam Movie Review

Feature Film | UA | Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller | 2h 36min
There is beauty in Nimish Ravi's camerawork in Kurup. Sushin Shyam's background music and a Shine Tom Chako performance complement the camerawork. But Srinath Rajendran only serves up a stylish thriller without enough substance and with a charming Dulquer Salmaan.
Nov 12, 2021 By Sreejith Mullappilly


As a Malayali, especially a millennial, you must have heard about notorious fugitive Sukumara Kurup. The fugitive gets a passing mention in many Malayalam movies, most notably K. Madhu's Oru CBI Diary Kurippu. So, when a movie about Sukumara Kurup comes out, there is expectantly a buzz in and around theaters in Kerala. The biggest challenge for Srinath Rajendran's new film Kurup is to live up to the pre-release hype and that too in a pandemic year. The other big challenges are about producing it with an actor-star like Dulquer Salmaan, doing justice to the material and making it appealing to the masses.

I understand that those are big challenges for the makers to live up to, but they only succeed in it partly. This is not to say that Kurup is an unwatchable film. Far from it. There is a lot to admire here and much to ponder over long after the theatrical screening thanks mainly to the real-life incident it is based on. Let us first talk about the positives of the movie.

There is a sense of authenticity in the period setting for the film. The story happens in the 1980's, and the makers make the period look authentic with the right costumes, hairstyles and so forth. They also use Hindi film songs from the 1980's to give Kurup the look and feel of a classy period film.

Early in the film, we learn that Dulquer's Gopi Krishnan is an Air Force trainee who dreams of becoming a pilot one day. His days in the Air Force Academy are filled with mischievous pranks that give no inkling of the machiavellian criminal whom we later meet in the film. Gopi alias Kurup creates his double identity at the academy, presumably to escape from the institution due to its mundane lifestyle. There, he also forges crucial relationships that would define him and help the investigating police officers get an idea about the man. When at the academy, Gopi/Kurup and Sobhita Dhulipala's Sharda fall in love.

The pre-interval portion of the movie is eminently watchable but has one song too many.. It is followed by a fascinating stretch about the incident that made Kurup the notorious criminal that he once was and still is. The portion in the movie features Kurup and his partners in crime, Shine Tom Chacko's Bhasi Pillai, Vijaykumar Prabhakaran's Ponnappan, and Shivajith Padmanabhan's Shahu.

The movie benefits greatly from a spine-chilling Shine Tom Chacko performance. Few actors make me excited from the get-go just as Shine Tom Chacko does. He portrays a scheming and cruel person here who casually fondles women in public. Nimish Ravi's stunning camerawork and Sushin Shyam's thundering background score bring a killing scene to the screen in all its grisly glory. It ranks among the best-ever murder scenes in Malayalam cinema.

But a good scene here or there does not make a movie great. It only exists in isolation, as a piece of cinematic reference perhaps. As for Kurup, the movie, its main issue is with the treatment of Dulquer Salman's protagonist. We know little about the man and the criminal wanted by Kerala Police and Interpol. Who is Kurup? Why does a man from a common Kerala family become a fugitive? Kurup's personal life may not be well-documented, but you cannot spend a good part of a biographical thriller making the protagonist walk in slow motion clad in cool clothing.

Dulquer Salman's wardrobe is a more striking feature in Kurup than his characterization. It adds up to surface coolth and little substance. The performance of the actor is charming, and he does show us the dark shades of the fugitive to some extent. But I could not look beyond the star halo and the charming effect of Dulquer to see the devil in him.

The other notable character in Kurup is Indrajith Sukumaran's DYSP Krishnadas. Indrajith plays the no-nonsense cop with ease. Anupama Parameswaran is also excellent in a cameo role. There is also an actor whose name I do not want to mention here and whose generosity to act in this film is commendable.

Srinath Rajendran is more interested in how Kurup executes his cunning and cruel plan than what goes on inside his head. The cat and mouse game between Kurup and Krishnadas is intermittently enjoyable. The director also uses an interesting screenplay structure here that makes us watch the same scenes from multiple perspectives. The story itself is told from the points of view of its different characters. Kurup is more for an impressionable audience than one looking for the so-called style-meets-substance cinema.

Sreejith Mullappilly