The moment the clock struck midnight, I knew Amazon Prime Video had struck gold. Mahesh Narayanan’s Malik holds your interest by the throat and does not let go even for a minute for the two hours and forty one minutes he takes to tell you the story of Suleiman Ali, the Godfather, of a coastal town of Ramadapally.
The film takes you from one stunning moment to another, leaving you reeling from the intensity of the storytelling. Malik starts simply enough, with a celebration of sorts, but why do you smell the biryani? And before you know it, you are involved with the politics of the household. You wonder what is going to happen should Ikka take the car instead of the bus with the other pilgrims…
You realise that the cinematography by Sanu Verghese is deceptively simple. One minute you are part of the celebration and the next minute you are watching CCTV footage of an arrest being made. This is just the beginning of the film.
Fahadh Faasil (FaFa to his legion of fans) plays the ageing patriarch who has with the help of his friends David (played brilliantly by Vinay Forrt) and others created a ‘Bombay like grey market’ for goods, and revived the small fishing village in the coast that has nothing but a dumping yard for the town. The unerring Joju George plays the local collector Anwar Ali who knows that the lads are up to no good, but keeps them at bay. Suleiman, David and the gang play truant from school, learn to smuggle and instill life in the small village. Everyone in Ramadapally owes the lads something.
What the filmmaker is slowly telling us is that the community in that small town is so close knit that Suleiman Ali can marry Rosalyn - his best friend David’s sister - and not have her change her religion. That it takes self serving politicians like P.A. Aboobacker (played by Dileesh Pothan) to throw the thriving community into disarray by creating religion as a sore point.
But nothing’s so black and white. The religious bias has to fester inside one of the friends, and as the audience you can just wring your hands in despair because you know this is not going to end well. But there’s plenty to cheer about. The romance between Rosalyn and Suleiman is just so wonderfully written. Right from the selling of the mackerels to the wedding and beyond. That’s just delicious to view, and it is wrapped in all kinds of action. Suleiman and David exact their revenge on a nasty smuggler Chandran by following him. The sequence where Suleiman is casing him, fabulous.
The price the community pays - whether it is due to disasters natural or created by men - is large. And you are stunned by the enormity of the scale. Suleiman’s leadership skills are just incredible, and you can’t imagine where and how he can come up with schemes to outsmart the coast guard while smuggling or protecting people. You see him kill Chandran unrepentant, and the next minute you see him pick up his son on his back. You watch him throw away the fish that could help the village folk earn their bread and butter, and the next minute you see him wave awkwardly at Rosalyn. After seeing him in such glorious contrasts, how can you not be a FaFa fan?
And yes, I saved Rosalyn for the last. it’s Nimisha Sajayan. I fell in love with her in The Great Indian Kitchen and now here. She’s practically flawless. Shines in every scene, whether she’s frustrated, angry, or expressing her love…The film is made beautiful by her presence.
The musical score keeps the tension up throughout the film and you watch it without ever needing that cup of coffee - a permanent fixture- because movies release late at night! Like I said, Amazon Prime Video has struck gold. And it’s name is Malik.