Kuruthi Malayalam Movie Review
Like Rohith VS's Kala, Manu Warrier's Kuruthi uses a home invasion thriller as a template to explore deeper themes. Only, Kala is a physical manifestation of a class struggle, whereas Kuruthi is about how hatred sprouts communal violence. Now, what is a home invasion thriller? It is the kind of film where one character, usually a vandal, enters another's home without authorization and destroys everything there. It is a genre with a lot of limitations in terms of what a film can do.
Kuruthi works within those limitations while telling a provocative story that touches on even our deep traumas, fears and beliefs. The first half-hour or so is a set-up for what's to follow. We see characters discussing different things going on in their world, including a boy who killed a shop owner. At first, these conversations seem random, and the world these characters inhabit appears pretty peaceful. A past landslide affected a part of the village, taking many lives in the process. We learn that Roshan Mathew's Ibrahim and Manikandan Achari's Preman lost their families in the landslide. Despite that, Suma (Srindaa) and Preman live as a family isolated from the rest of the village, as do Ibrahim, Rasool (Naslen) and Moosa (Mamukkoya).
Things perk up when a cop, Murali Gopy's SI Sathyan, forces his way into Ibrahim's home late at night with a culprit, Sagar Surya's Vishnu. The cop tells Ibrahim and his family that he needs to spend the night there for a specific reason. Then, a series of strange events tests the morality and faith of these characters. Kuruthi makes you wonder what is more significant: Our adherence to faith or belief in humanity.
Kuruthi was filmed entirely during the pandemic, but you would not know this had the makers kept it a secret. A lot of the challenges for the movie would apply to any other home invasion thriller. For instance, it is challenging to film the events in and around a home and still make it all interesting. Director Manu Warrier and cinematographer Abinandhan Ramanujam overcome that challenge with some stretches of bravura filmmaking. The writing by Anish Pallyal is also always interesting and often provocative.
There are multiple layers to Anish Pallyal's script for Kuruthi. What seems like throwaway lines and random references early in the film come full circle at the end, including one about a sacrificial goat. Besides, it is Anish's meaningful lines that give Manu a chance to explore the deeper themes of the movie and that help him with characterization.
Speaking of characterization, it helps that the movie has a group of performers working at the top of their game. Prithviraj plays an interesting character called Laiq, who I do not want to talk much about here to avoid spoilers. But know this much: Prithviraj conveys what drives this man even with the relatively limited screen time he gets. Roshan Mathew conveys his character's perplexity and morality very well. Srindaa essays a powerful female character with a complicated sense of morality.
When I saw Murali Gopy initially, I had a sense of perception about what this man is like. Even as his character's actions seem contrary to my perception, the actor is skilled enough to convey his true nature without much dialogue. You could say the same about Shine Tom Chacko and Mamukkoya in their respective roles. Veteran actor Mamukkoya is so good in the film's more powerful moments that he gave me gooseflesh.
Now, Kuruthi is not a perfect film. Almost every film has its fair share of flaws, and Kuruthi is no exception. My slight reservations about the movie have to do with some of its action sequences. For instance, when we see a character running behind a motorbike, we expect the bike to be so far in front, but the stunt makes it seem like the character also has wheels. Then, there are so many scenes where some of the characters are about to get shot or killed/injured otherwise. There are too many scenes like those in the movie. As with the talking killer syndrome, the repetition here kind of makes you want to yell at the characters, "guys, get on with it". But these are not major dealbreakers. These minor flaws aside, Kuruthi works as it packs in a lot more than your standard home invasion thriller.