Nayattu (The Hunt), currently screening on Netflix globally, is an exceptional movie from the Malayalam high-quality cinema factory. The two-hour flick is a hard-hitting reflection of the current world we live in, where truth or data doesn’t matter. What matters is what we want to see and believe, in tune with the extremely local, community or political emotions we are harbouring from time to time. Social media has long exhausted its benefits; all it does today is fuel more extreme opinions, about the things we love. All we want to see is some sensational WhatsApp forward or a Tik Tok reel, get mightily offended, insecure, and then vomit out our extremist feelings in the comments. The truth, the actual data, a balanced discussion or listening out the victim’s version – we don’t care. We are in a hurry to proclaim for someone to be hanged, banned, deported, stripped of his job, jailed or gunned down. We are in a hurry to get offended. At this weekend of writing, I read on papers about at least six film and tv personalities whose heads are being called for, being badly trolled or booked by the police, for something very trivial. The demography of crime and the focus of the police is rapidly shifting – they no longer need to hunt for real criminals or prevent real crime. They only need to look at what’s offending people!
In Nayattu, director Martin Prakkat and writer Shahi Kabir, take this thing one level up – they make the police the victims themselves. So we have three cops, returning after attending a regular marriage function, whose police jeep hit a Dalit activist in a routine accident case. Had the police fled from the spot, all would be fine. Yet, they decide to do the humane thing and pick up the victim and bring him to the hospital, where unfortunately he is declared dead. The local politician needs Dalit votes to win the upcoming election. The Dalit activist had a minor skirmish with the same police team recently. Two plus two made up for another round of mob justice! Entire media and social media go high on “Drunk policemen kill Dalit man” as the statewide hunt beings to capture them.
The truth? Well, none of the three cops was driving the vehicle, the actual driver didn’t have any pegs of alcohol on him, it was a standard road accident, two of the three cops are Dalits themselves… well no one cares!
Over the first 45min, Nayattu builds on the background of the police team. One of them has to attend his darling daughter’s dance program, another has to see potential marriage proposals and the third one is engulfed in a family dispute. The movie changes gears after the accident, and as a viewer you are left to watch aghast as to how three police personnel, now declared fugitives, are running around in jungles, hiding at random places, sleeping on rocks and moving around in disguise, just to save their lives. The chase scenes are thrilling and the ending has all three elements – shock, heart touching and introspecting.
Naturally, the performances range from being top-notch – Joju George and Kunchako Boban; to eye-catching – Dineesh P and Yama Gilgamesh. The settings around the lush green and jungle terrain of Munnar, add to the story. The music, expectedly, is haunting. The creative team has given attention to the smallest of details – like the traditional music and song at the marriage will get your foot tapping; some glances exchanged between the lead couple say a lot; dramatics have been avoided – like a sanitary pad is gifted without much fuss or when one of the police officers in an earlier scene is shown to calmly spread petrol to frame an innocent person.
Yes, the ones being hunted today, were once hunters too. And the hunters today, will be hunted soon too.
Current IMDB viewers rating: 8.2/10