One can either serve the main course straight, or start with a wholesome appetiser that would raise the expectations of the main course. In Kannur Squad, debutant director Roby Varghese Raj chooses the latter, beginning with a short investigation that would tell us about the style of working of this special team of police officers, their proclivities and their Achilles’ heel, before plunging into the wildgoose chase that is at the heart of the film.
By the time they take up the task to nab the culprits behind the cold-blooded murder of a businessman inside his house in Kasargod, the audience gets an almost accurate measure of each of the four members. Probably because flawed police officers with their personal lives beset with troubles is no longer a novelty in police procedurals, Kannur Squad does not overplay that part. Here, for a change, one of them is facing serious corruption charges, leading to rifts within the team. This rift is a crucial element in the film, with various aspects of it reappearing over the course of the narrative.
Director: Roby Varghese Raj
Cast: Mammootty, Rony David Raj, Azeez Nedumangad, Shabareesh Varma, Kishore Kumar G, Vijayaraghavan
Storyline: A businessman is murdered inside his house by a Hindi-speaking gang, and a special team of police officers who have a record of cracking tough cases, are given ten days to catch the culprits
Duration: 162 minutes
As for personal lives, ASI George (Mammootty), the squad leader does not seem to have one, while the other three — Jayan (Rony David Raj), Jose (Azeez Nedumangad) and Shafi (Shabareesh Varma) — have some things to worry about. The fifth member, their dependable Sumo, has only the fuel prices to worry about during the multi-state run. But the script by Rony David Raj and Muhammed Shafi, based on a true story, portrays all four of them as investigators who would stop at nothing when they are pursuing a culprit, even when all the trails run cold. In the case they are pursuing, they are also faced with political pressure and a deadline of ten days to catch the men who are treading each of their steps carefully.
Comparisons would obviously be made to Rajeev Ravi’s Kuttavum Shikshayum and the 2017 Tamil film Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru, both of which had police teams tailing criminal gangs across North Indian villages and facing attacks from the local population. But Kannur Squad exists in a space somewhere between these two films, approaching part of the material through a realistic lens, and then keeping that lens aside for a while to let the superstar do things that would gladden his fans. He does pull it off well. Thankfully, the film does not go overboard with the latter and sticks to the police procedural sans any glamour for the most part.
Though much of the investigation depends on the now ubiquitous mobile tower dump analysis, some effective bits of good old ground-level investigation adds to the thrill. Providing the viewer with the identity of the suspects quite early on does take away some of the surprise element, but the partly-gripping journey to track them down and the seemingly-insurmountable obstacles that they policemen face on the way, keeps the narrative afloat till the end.
Despite a few familiar, generic elements, Kannur Squad manages to become an effective procedural drama.
Kannur Squad is currently running in theatres