Virus Malayalam Movie Review
A meticulous discipline and composure in the craft comes to the fore while revisiting a period that immersed Kerala into the depths of anxiety. The 2018 Nipah virus outbreak gets an admiring visual treatment from the hands of filmmaker Aashiq Abu through 'Virus'.
A typical topic for docudrama, the fictional incidents cropping up in the sublime script clearly prevent it from tumbling to the documentary mode. Scenarists Muhsin Parari, Sharfu and Suhas elegantly apply a measured control over the scattered incidents and characters. It immensely helps the film embrace a thriller milieu in the latter half. 'Virus' is teeming with an ensemble cast and topnotch technical finesse, including commendable cinematography by Rajeev Ravi and music by Sushin Shyam.
At the outset, junior doctor Abid (Sreenath Bhasi) and his classmate and lover Sara Yakub (Madonna Sebastian) establish the proceedings. A youth from Perambra in Kozhikode district is got admitted to Kozhikode Medical College with fever and other complications. Like a domino effect, more patients start to come to hospital with similar symptoms.
A nurse named Akhila (Rima Kallingal) is admitted to hospital with symptoms and she dies soon. Her husband Sandeep (Sharafudheen), who is working abroad, comes to meet her. She writes an emotional letter to him realizing that her end is near. Here Aashiq Abu shies away from detailing the family life of Akhila even as it has similarities with the real life story of nurse Lini, who died while treating Nipah patients.
Kunchako Boban plays Dr Suresh Rajan, who realizes that the virus infection was first found in a youth named Zakariya, essayed by director Zakariya Mohammed of 'Sudani From Nigeria' fame. Investigations start to find out the cause of spread of virus by medical experts. Dr Annu (Parvathy Thiruvoth) visits the houses and gathers valid information that leads medical experts to conclusions. They hold series of meetings with Health Minister C.K. Prameela (Revathy), District Collector Paul V Abraham (Tovino Thomas) and Health Secretary Dr Smriti (Poornima Indrajith).
The impact of Nipah and its aftermath are delicately portrayed in the film as the family of the Nipah patients are isolated by others. At a time people hesitate to cremate the bodies of Nipah virus victims, Dr Baburaj (Indrajith Sukumaran) comes forward along with hospital staff Babu (Joju George). Amid the dreadful situation, we see the lives of Vishnu (Asif Ali), Babu's wife (Remya Nambeesan) and Unnikrishnan (Soubin Shahir) among others. Soubin showcases a powerful act that once again reassures the brutal face of the virus.
'Virus' reminds us of the laudable concerted efforts put up by the medical officers and staff along with public to stave off further damage in the State. Aashiq pays a fitting tribute to the victims and highlights the sufferings of a population during those tumultuous days. He deserves a pat for portraying the struggles of hapless people sans diluting them with cinematic fripperies. It's a strikingly impressive attempt holding a mirror up to the reality.
There is hardly any purposeful drama but only the reality is in sight. Any deliberate and forceful attempt for exploiting the emotional quotient of the characters would have pulled down the impact of the movie. Here the director adopts a remarkably restrained stance in handling the conflict that sent shock-waves across Kerala.