Underworld (2019) Malayalam Movie Review – Veeyen


This oddly gruesome thriller has the bite, but just not enough of it to keep the viewers dangling on their seat edges. Which is why, despite the spine-tingling moments here and there, ‘Underworld’ eventually leaves you impassive and indifferent.


While Arun Kumar Aravind’s dark take on the underworld that exists not just around the shadowy streets of the city’s underbelly but within the foggy corners of our inner selves is not entirely without its own sweet rewards, it remains a tale that gets lost in its own foggy alleyways. Alternatively tight and flabby, ‘Underworld’ does deliver a few thrills before falling squarely into the basket and ending up an indistinctive film.

Shibin Francis, the writer, chalks out three central characters, all of whom have more shades of black than white. There is Stalin (Asif Ali) who runs into trouble with the cops after the shady business that he had been running in his cinema theatre is busted by them. There is Solomon (Jean Paul Lal) who plainly shoots the pet dog that had remained for long with him, as a penalty for having shifted his focus from a wild boar that he had been aiming at. And there is Majeed (Farhaan Faasil) who makes do with bashing up anyone who is pointed at, provided the money that he asks for is handed over straight.

‘Underworld’ links these three characters through Padmanabhan (Mukesh), a minister who is currently serving sentence in jail for a corruption case. He has none less that five hundred crores stashed away outside, and Solomon whom he had entrusted it with, seems to be in no mood to hand it back. Seeing potential in his fellow jail mates Stalin and Majeed, he lets them out with his political clout and sets them after Solomon.

‘Underworld’ does have some significantly nerve-jangling scenes,  like the one where Stalin and Majeed approach someone to deal the five hundred crores. Little do they expect Solomon to upturn the tables and they find themselves at gun point all on a sudden. This hair raising moment however, is succeeded by a bike chase that goes on and on, robbing the previous moment of its chill and rendering the entire sequence ineffective.

In fact, the entire movie is ridden with such ups and downs, where some of it works, and works real good and some others feel desperate and overwrought. There are also several instances when the execution of it appears a bit too mechanical, and where instead of the chill, all you feel is plainly cold.

The women in ‘Underworld’ are a bare minimum, and in a dog-kill-dog world that is portrayed on screen, they appear frightfully insignificant. There is Solomon’s wife (Amalda Liz) who admits that she barely knows the man whom he is outside the house, Majeed’s love interest who appears and disappears in a matter of minutes (Ketaki Narayan), a KSEB employee  (Samyuktha Menon) whom Stalin owes some money, his lawyer (Muthumani) the better part of whose life is spent on bailing him out of his criminal cases and his mother (Sreelekshmi) who is distraught at the life that her son has been leading.

‘Underworld’ would however be remembered for Solomon and that whopper of a transformation that Lal Jr. has apparently gone through. The man is astonishingly good as the vengeful, menacing psychopath that Solomon is , and with an upbeat performance that he so effortlessly dishes out, everyone else including Asif Ali and Farhaan move over to the fringes of the stage. Mukesh leaves a very definite mark as well, in a role that is way off his customary zone.

This oddly gruesome thriller has the bite, but just not enough of it to keep the viewers dangling on their seat edges. Which is why, despite the spine-tingling moments here and there, ‘Underworld’ eventually leaves you impassive and indifferent.


Verdict: Average


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