Kunchacko Boban stars in ‘Anjaam Pathiraa’, a weakly written serial-killer thriller that offers minor genre pleasures

Posted on February 5, 2020

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At the end, this turns out to be one of those films that takes a hot-button issue and expects us to care simply because it takes that issue up.

Spoilers ahead…

Anwar Hussain (Kunchacko Boban, efficient as always) is preparing for his PhD in criminology, so he goes to a prison and interviews an inmate called “Ripper” Ravi. He wants to know everything about the man, a serial killer. But “Ripper” Ravi isn’t someone whose psyche can be unravelled to yield “reasons” and “answers”. He tells Anwar — with a satisfactory amount of glee — that he simply likes the sound of skulls being smashed. He simply likes the wails of victims. He searches for a word to describe the feeling that coursed through him during each of the 14 murders he committed, and he finally gets it: “ecstasy”. This is the scene that opens Anjaam Pathiraa, from writer-director Midhun Manuel Thomas, and it made me sit up.

The very basis of a serial-killer thriller — a well-established genre by now — is a series of well-established screenplay knots. We typically begin with the killings. A pattern emerges — a sign of a fetish, or a gruesome signature. (Here, the heart and eyes of the victims are torn out.) Clues are unearthed. (Unnimaya Prasad plays the DCP, forever three steps behind.) And finally, we discover the identity of the perpetrator (the who) and the reason for his or her actions (the why). This is how most films of this genre — with exceptions like Mysskin’s recently released Psycho, which traverses the killer’s character trajectory, thus giving away the who right up front — work. And this is exactly how Anjaam Pathiraa works.

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