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-[Film Reviews]-, South Asian Cinema, South Indian Cinema

‘Mumbai Police’ (2013): An Ambitious Yet Obtuse Crime Drama

mumbai-police (1)

Directed by: Rosshan Andrews || Produced by: Nisad Haneefa

Screenplay by: Bobby-Sanjay || Starring: Prithviraj, Jayasurya, Rahman, Hima Davis, Aparna Nair, Deepa Rahul Ishwar, Kunjan, Rohith Vijayan

Music by: Gopi Sunder || Cinematography: R. Diwakar || Edited by: Mahesh Narayanan || Country: India || Language: Malayalam

Running Time: 145 minutes

Rosshan Andrew’s cop thriller, Mumbai Police, is an atypical yet familiar detective story that combines archetypal (re: melodramatic) Indian acting and screenwriting cliches with inventive plot-twists and an altogether satisfying narrative arc. The movie feels predictable at times, but pulls the rug out from under your feet just when the plot starts becoming too by-the-numbers.

The film starts with a member of an unofficial self-titled police group, the “Mumbai Police,” driving down a dark road at night; he calls his superior, revealing that he knows the identity of the murderer involved in an unspecified homicide. However, before we can find out who that murderer is, the cop, Antony Moses (Prithviraj Sukumaran), crashes his car and endures head trauma, suffering memory loss. He has no recollection of the murder case nor the identity of the killer, nor any familiarity with his identity before the accident. Despite this, he is encouraged by the police commissioner (Rashin Rahman) to uncover the identity of the mystery killer and, just as importantly, discover exactly how and why the principal murder took place.

The film remains hindered by standard Indian filmmaking cliches like poor acting and lame attempts at humor, as well as lazy screenwriting decisions like having the characters recall a tense cop-and-robbers shootout entirely through dialogue; that being said, the heart of the murder mystery remains engaging due to well paced flashbacks and solid character development.

Left: Lead man Prithviraj Sukumaran (left) polices the mean streets with his less jerky subordinate, Aparna Nair (right). Watch out for that mustache, Nair. Right: Who is the story’s killer, and why did he kill in the first place?

The main problem with the detective plot has to do with the reveal of the killer, the fact that it hinges on the rather unbelievable premise that a person can forget their sexual orientation through amnesia — or, put another way, have the gay bashed out of them if you hit them hard enough in the head. I’m not sure if this has to do with the Indian public’s general misunderstanding of homosexuality or just bad writing, but the incredulity of this revelation robs much of the satisfaction out of the ending. Otherwise, the story wraps up all loose ends and plays its cards close to the chest.

All things considered, Mumbai Police presents little novel or exemplary cinematographic or screenwriting material, but for its part, tells a reliably entertaining story that keeps your interest despite its lengthy run-time. It seems that most Indian films from all industries are reluctant to tone down their acting style, but at this point that may be something I should just accept comes with the territory. The consistency of the yarn makes up for its flaws, most notably a crude revelatory sequence, but the detective whodunit fun is in the journey, not the destination.


SUMMARY & RECOMMENDATION: Mumbai Police’s mystery arc keeps you interested for most of the film’s 145 minutes. The characters are memorable despite their occasionally nonsensical behavior; the reconciliation at the end between two of the major characters (including the killer) is satisfying.

However… the performances are tedious and boring. The film’s sense of humor falls flat.


? What is it with all these South Indian actors and filmmakers having mononym stage names? Who are you, Seal?

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