CIA (2017) Malayalam Movie Review by Veeyen


Aji Mathew meanders across a road paved with grey stones in Nicaragua, where a girl dressed in a flaming red poof gown sashays down. This pretty much remains a visual statement on what the film is all about ; how empty it is beyond all the ocular flair that it displays, and how fleeting the impressions that it creates are.


Amal Neerad’s ‘CIA’ is not even remotely a political film, and the Communism that it propagates is as synthetically coloured as the flaming red Che scarf that Aji sports in his brilliantly crafted introductory scene, that firmly establishes that he isn’t just a comrade, but a comrade hero to boot. Wading through a cloud of smoke, he steadily walks towards a wall of policemen, with a petrol bomb in his hands with a raucous remix of ‘Balikudeerangale…’  blaring on.

The goose bump moment over, ‘CIA’ has a stack of foreseeable moments all piled up, with a stale love story and a drag of a road trip following suit. Aji Mathew (Dulquer Salman) walks into a class of junior students and rescues Sarah Mary Kurien (Karthika Muralidharan) from the clutches of a group of hazers. It takes precisely less than thirty seconds for the NRI girl to fall in love with the Comrade who later explains to her that Communism is akin to sharing your lunch with a friend who hasn’t brought lunch. Still not sure if they were being humorous.

One of the initial scenes in ‘CIA’ has its protagonist dozing off after having read through David Danelo’s much acclaimed work ‘The Border: Exploring the US – Mexican Divide’ and a nightmare that features a few hopeful US immigrants jolting him out of his sleep. This is pretty much the sole suggestion that the film might have aspired to offer a take on the issue of illegal immigration that had rocked even the recent presidential election in the US.

With a tagline like ‘How far would you go for love’, it goes without saying that circumstances lead Aji to follow Sarah all the way to the US. Before that though, he ensues in a conversation with Che, Marx and Lenin at the Party office in the dead of the night, and even convinces them to let out a smile, unlike their usual selves. A fantasy scenario that goes totally haywire and stuffed with comatose conversations, this remains one of the lowest points for me in the entire film.

The latter half of the film sees Aji’s journey along a no-man’s land that traverses across Nicaragua and the Honduras and then on to Mexico, from where he hopes to cross over to the US. He joins a group of odd travellers, all of whom have kept their spirits high, and who hope to sneak their way into the dreamland that is the US.

Aji Mathew meanders across a road paved with grey stones in Nicaragua, where a girl dressed in a flaming red poof gown sashays down. This pretty much remains a visual statement on what the film is all about ; how empty it is beyond all the ocular flair that it displays, and how fleeting the impressions that it creates are.

There are the individual back tales that each of these travellers lay out before us, and they contest with one another for being the most pointless one. Especially bizarre is the one narrated by Pallavi (Chandini Sreedharan), who ventures out to cross the Mexican border since she has been denied a Visa by the US. Her intention is to visit the place where her late dad had worked, and to find out the public cemetery where he has been buried. Off she goes hence, armed with a pack of condoms (the larger ones, we are explained), in case she gets raped along the way. The motive and the modus operandi are not likely to get any flimsier, for sure.

As much enlivening as the climactic scene might be, where Aji gets to settle a few scores with aplomb, it remains that this is fast evolving to be a meek formula that the new wave Malayalam cinema has dragged in along with it. And it hammers in the final nail on the coffin, as the comrade sheds red for starched white and walks in to meet his lady love. Period.

Comrade Aji Mathew gets all worked up over the mention of the word ‘condoms’ though, and is taken aback by a girl shopping for them, which makes us wonder if it’s an intended poke on the concealed moralist in him. Later on, he quickly flies to Pallavi’s defence, when confronted by a group of assailants on the Mexican desert, and his martial skills that he had previously displayed during a skirmish at Ramapuram, are put to test yet again.

Dulquer is at his usual best in ‘CIA’ as well, but the slipshod writing lets down him time and again. Soubin Shahir and Dileesh Pothan bring in some mirth, while Karthika Muralidharan makes a confident debut. Siddique, John Vijay, Chandini Sreedharan and Jinu Joseph are seen in key roles as well. Renadive’s magical frames make the film a visual delight, while Gopi Sundar’s musical score remains at best, adequate.

‘CIA’ looks like a mix up of a film that is headed nowhere. And even at slightly more than a couple of hours, it sounds like an overly drawn-out speech that is cluttered with tons of skeletal thoughts and a plethora of throwaway words that hold no purpose whatsover.


Verdict: Disappointing


Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Reply