Malik - The Saviour without the Saviour Complex!
The gangster/don who wears this hat to be the savior of his masses has been that gift that keeps on giving. Great filmmakers have created classics using this template. For a handful of such classics, we actually have a much higher number of poor imitations. And this premise is such that it lends itself equally to both serious cinema as well as potboilers. With Mahesh Narayanan and Fahadh Faasil, it is a no brainer on how they are going to approach this premise.
As similar as it is to certain classics, Malik consciously stays away from taking the 'massy' route. I am not even talking about hero worshipping here. Though the film is centred around Sulaiman (Fahadh Faasil), this is not one of those films that is all about its protagonist. In a sense, it is more about how the characters around him see him in different ways. And all these characters are given sufficient space to breathe.
The actors are terrific. Be it Fahadh or Nimisha or Vinay or Joju George. Fahadh plays Sulaiman devoid of the saviour complex attitude that almost always creeps into such characters or the actors playing them. In Malik, Fahadh does play the saviour but it is fascinating to see how there is not once that you feel a sense of self pride. Even when he is countering someone, his confidence arises from the fact that he believes that his people would stand up for him. And this is precisely where Malik stands apart from the classics of this genre.
Mahesh Narayanan brings to life the landscape where the story is set in. Like Vada Chennai, Malik is another reminder on how the ruling class and the system at its disposal find ways (legal/illegal/ethical/unethical) to achieve its goals.
While predictability is mostly a given in a film like Malik, the emotional punches don't land heavily . The underplay of emotions, which in a way is the film's USP also hurts it at times. The tension ought to have been higher leading to the climax. We don't really feel the highs or the lows that the characters experience at times. For example, we already know what has happened to Sulaiman's son and it is later shown to reveal a crucial plot point. So this scene plays out and while we are in awe of how the scene is shot and enacted, the emotional enormity gets diluted because of the earlier reveal. This might have worked if we were really playing the guessing game as to what might have transpired between Sulaiman and David(Vinay Forrt). But that kind of a tension isn't created.
Despite the predictability, Malik is an extremely well made film that has you engrossed with its drama and solid performances.