Actor Nivin Pauly’s first production venture, Action Hero Biju, comes on the heels of Premam’s stupendous success. The film features him playing a police sub-inspector with a curiously nondescript name – Biju Paulose. There are many cinematic firsts for this policeman hero. He handles cases like chain-snatching, attempted suicide, domestic conflict, and indecent exposure in public. He doesn’t shout back at his superior officer. Or do daredevil stunts. He doesn’t even appear in a song-and-dance sequence with the heroine. Director Abrid Shine, who stepped into direction with an excellent 1983, has delivered a sensible cop movie, with barely a glimmer of conventional clichés.
Once a college lecturer, Biju changes his profession so he can be what he really wants to be — a police officer. He is earnest, honest and gentle. He solves cases rationally, and sometimes, with a touch of humour. For criminals, this officer is a nightmare. His police station is an ordinary government office, with files stacked on tables. His subordinates report to him every morning, and take down his orders on a sheet of paper. The policemen in this film are ordinary public servants who could get suspended from work for reasons as simple as misplacing a wireless set while on duty. Biju, who is engaged to an artist, Benitta (Anu Emmanuel), has little time to spare for her.
The film progresses through the myriad cases that arrive on Biju’s desk. Even though there’s no definitive storyline with twists and turns, it doesn’t matter. The film introduces characters one by one, and they steal the show. Some of them are hilarious. Some of them are heartbreaking.
A man (Suraj Venjarammood) walks away devastated after his estranged wife tells the police that the child he had lovingly raised, isn’t really his child. An NCC student, winner of the ‘Best Cadet’ award, weeps helplessly as she watches the police arrest her mother for stealing gold. When faced with these situations, Biju, like any other sensitive human being, struggles to hold back his emotions. When a toothless old drunkard, arrested for stripping in public, decides to serenade everyone present at the station with his rendition of a love song, Biju laughs and plays along. In one outstanding sequence, two women approach Biju with a complaint against their neighbour, who likes to bathe in public. There is no forced humour, no forced melodrama. Every character and nearly every moment looks organic.
Despite a clear effort to redefine the popular cop film genre, there are a few slips into the stereotypical. One such unwarranted scene is when a fatally wounded Biju delivers a lengthy talk about the nobility of his profession. While fighting criminals.
The overall acting in the film looks effortless. A group of unseasoned, terrific actors form the majority of the supporting cast. Then there are actors like Devi Ajith, Rohini, Joju Joseph, Saiju Kurup and Jude Anthony, whose performances makes one wish they were in more films. Nivin Pauly delivers a convincing performance, and has all the right looks.
Jerry Amaldev’s music is beautiful, though feels a little too intense and emotional for a drama-less movie like Action Hero Biju. The song ‘Pookkal Panineer Pookkal’, sung by Vani Jayaram and Yesudas, is soulful and romantic. But the visuals and placement of the song is jarring, almost as if the director had a hard time figuring out how to include the song.
Action Hero Biju is a sincere statement of intent, that the director and actor refuse to yield to the pressures of commercial cinema. The film is a reassuring testimony against fears that Premam would make a typical superstar out of Nivin Pauly. Action Hero Biju proves that this is an actor who is committed to being an actor, not chasing stardom.
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