Loosely based on Akira Kurosawa’s Stray Dog, Sri Ganesh’s 2017 thriller 8 Thottakkal was a minimal slow burn that sort of gained a moment as the film approached the climax. The lack of scale made me root for the movie, as it still managed to attain the tension it wanted to create. Regarding Priyadarshan’s Malayalam adaptation of the film, titled Corona Papers, the scale and production values have got amplified. The overall tonality of the movie was a thriller with twists rather than exploring the mind-space of certain characters.
Rahul, a newly joined SI in the Kerala police force, gets a shadow duty upon his arrival at his first station. But unfortunately, he lost his service revolver, and later he found out that this gun was used in a robbery and one girl got shot with that gun. With his job at risk, Rahul unofficially joins the bank robbery investigation team to find the people behind the heist. How that investigation proceeds and what all he gets to know during the course of that is what we see in Corona Papers.
Priyadarshan doesn’t want to create a scene-by-scene remake of 8 Thottakkal, so he has tried to restructure the screenplay. In a typical way, the film opens with a sequence that actually happens at the very end of the movie. The portion that has only got a narration in the Tamil version gets a visualization in Malayalam. It was a totally new one, and Priyadarshan placed that at the very beginning of the movie. The character played by Sidhique in this film of a suspended police officer is the one who drives the whole story. And the police officer, played by Shane Nigam, doesn’t have much depth or conflict other than a lost gun. In Sri Ganesh’s version, the police officer Sathya had a traumatic childhood which somewhere created a connection between the criminal and the cop, who were, in a way, victims who were never willing to compromise. One of the critical facets that got missed in translation was that dynamic.
Priyadarshan’s eye for scale and visual craft is actually what elevates this routine thriller to a fairly engaging level. He uses many silhouette shots in the film. The number of darks is really high compared to Sri Ganesh’s flatly lit slow thriller. Unlike the original, Priyadarshan prefers a thriller finish in the most physical sense. The drama quotient is extremely high. Unlike the original, the money exchange scene in Corona Papers happens on a rainy night. In the original, the driver character surrenders to the police out of pressure. But here, there is a chase set piece to get him. How Priyadarshan places the meeting of Sidhique, and Shane’s characters after all those dramatic events gave Corona Papers a different shade altogether.
Sidhique as the honest police officer who had to take some desperate steps was just brilliant. He uses body language very effectively to convey that character’s emotional space. Sidhique is one of those few actors in the industry who elevates dialogues with voice modulation. As I said, the Tamil version of Shane Nigam’s character has a lot of baggage. Since the screenplay has shredded all that traits, Rahul was a character that looked demanding only physically. Sandhya Shetty as the investigating officer was a total miscast, and the performance and dubbing had no sync. Shine Tom Chacko as the foolish gangster was fine. Priyadarshan tries his typical humor with a Pa-rhyming dialogue with Shine. Hannah Reji Koshy, Jean Paul Lal, Vijilesh, etc., are the other main characters in the movie. Like Aparna Balamurali’s character in the original, the journalist track led by Gayathrie Shankar felt like an inconsequential add-on.
By giving the movie the title Corona Papers, they have only tried to sound pertinent. The film has no connection with the disease or those days of the pandemic. If you have seen the Tamil version, then the Malayalam is a restructured and elaborate version of the same story with better production values.
If you have seen the Tamil version, then the Malayalam is a restructured and elaborate version of the same story with better production values.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended