Unda Review: it will make you think about the comfort you enjoy
Khalid Rahman’s new movie Unda’s promos had striking thematic resemblances with the Hindi movie Newton. But Khalid Rahman and writer Harshad make this movie look like a better adaptation in terms of content covered and the approach here is very rooted in reality. The last-minute action sequences may have disrupted the rhythm of the movie slightly, but still the political content and the way it hits you can make this movie a worthy watch with an enlightening quality.
Unda is about a group of police officers who are assigned for election duty in Chhattisgarh. The Maoist strong terrain is an unfamiliar place for these officers and the group lead by SI Mani has the aid of only one army professional. The problems they had to face because of the lack of familiarity and how they survived all that is what Unda talking about.
A movie like action hero Biju worked largely because of the authentic portrayal of the police force. Those movies showed reality very effectively. Here also the depiction is really rooted. The central character Mani is facing a lot of traumas which we usually don’t see in movies as it always shows the hero as an extremely capable person. SI Mani of Unda is a very unfamiliar hero for Malayalam cinema. The movie may feel like a story about a group of officers waiting for bullets to arrive, but the reality it shows us through its backdrop is highly political. On a commercial aspect, Unda having someone like Mammootty at the center and also getting a better release makes it a more impactful movie when compared to a niche film like Newton.
The earnestness and simplicity in Mammootty’s acting is a joy to watch in Unda. Mani is an extremely vulnerable commonly seen police officer. The way he interacts with the team interacts with the people and also the seniors have that warmth which makes him a likable human being with flaws. Arjun Ashokan gets a role that is kind of an extension of his role in June. Shine Tom Chacko was impressive as the egoistic police officer. Gokulan and Rony David delivered memorable performances. Sudani fame Abhiram Poduval got a better character here. Bhagwan Tiwari, Noushad Bombay, Dileesh Pothan, Ranjith, Omkar Das, Jacob Gregory were there in the star cast. And a surprise performance was from Lukman who as a pivotal character really shined.
Khalid Rahman once again proves that he is really good at developing characters in a screenplay. In the second movie, he is dealing with a highly political issue that most of the Keralites don’t even bother. The screenplay really uses the character played by Lukman to draw some parallels between the two narratives in the movie. The discrimination within the gang is a sample space of the discrimination the locals face in that area. And even though that action sequence is slightly over the top, the picture it gives about the real truth of the Maoist narrative is really heartbreaking or frightening. The cinematography and the production design add a lot of authenticity to the content. The sound design is also pretty interesting. The cuts keep the pace in the right zone.
Unda is not like a dark drama. It has enough humor to keep you occupied. But the movie will ultimately give you an idea about the reality of a group of people who are getting destroyed in the name of Maoism. And it will make you think about the comfort you enjoy and value it even more.
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