Manjummel Boys Review | This Terrific Survival Thriller From Chidambaram Is a Technical Marvel

Survival thrillers have always had a structure, and creating unpredictability in them is a difficult task. Chidamabaram’s second movie, after Jan E Man, Manjummel Boys, is one exceptional survival thriller that rises above the limitations of a template story with its technical extravagance, and I would say the movie has set a new benchmark for survival thrillers. With the realness in the frame making you feel the same level of nervousness the characters were feeling, Manjummel Boys is a visually spectacular film that never enters a zone of cheesiness.

Some of you may already know the story. It happened in 2006 when a group of men from Kochi’s Manjummel decided to go for a trip to Kodaikanal. The recklessness of the gang made them enter a part of the Guna caves that was restricted due to its dangerousness. The fun trip took an unexpected twist when one of the group members, Subash, fell into an infamous hole as nobody fell in that hole had survived. How the gang dealt with that unprecedented situation is what you witness in Manjummel Boys.

SPOILERS AHEAD! There is a moment in the movie where we are shown how the character of Subhash fell into that hole, and it is a scary and breathtaking few seconds. The fascinating part about that entire sequence was that when in the third act, where you see the rescue mission unfolding, they have made sure to address the complexities of that path. Chidambaram is not trying to show the shocking moments in the film in a conventional way. The pivotal moment in the story happens in a way that you, as an audience, experience the same shock. There is no slow-motion visual of Subhash going down. Even the two friends who saw the thing are in an emotionless shock. The first visual of Subhash after the incident also has a very unexpected presentation.

One thing everyone is going to talk about after the film is its technical magnificence. The way the film transitions from the real locations to the sets is absolutely seamless, and I think it is a great amalgamation of Ajayan Challissery’s production design, the visual effects, and, of course, the brilliant cinematography of Shyju Khalid that captures the depth of the emotions and situations with great clarity. Chidambaram had mentioned in interviews that since the key event of the movie was happening in Guna caves, they had decided to shoot it in 1.85 aspect ratio as it has more vertical coverage, and the movie gets the best of that decision in the second half of the story.

In the writing part of the movie, there are cliches like how they go to the glimpses of Subhash’s character’s childhood. But the placement of those moments is actually superb. It is very much at a point where you need to feel a sense of breath, those moments are happening on screen. As he mentioned in the interview, one can see the visuals trying to depict the contrast between Manjummel and Kodaikanal in the visual landscape. The background score by Sushin Shyam sounds very atypical this time, and because of the humane elements in the story, regular patches of elevations were required, and I would say some of the musical pieces had the elements of grandeur you hear in Western films. More than Shyju Khalid, the man who had the task of incorporating every character in the movie with the desired impact was the editor Vivek Harshan, and I think he managed to register characters and the space beautifully through the cuts.

The movie’s writing is such that it is rarely about a particular person. And Chidmabram is not going the cheesy way of someone overcoming some fear through this event. So, when it comes to performances, the duration is somewhat small for almost every actor, but almost everyone has a scene that will help them register their character with the audience. Sreenath Bhasi, as Subhash, is in his usual elements in the initial bits of the movie, and the performance was exceptionally good in the final moments of that rescue operation. Soubin Shahir is pretty much playing the veteran in the gang, and just like Bhasi, the challenging sequences for him also happen in the final bits of the movie. Jean-Paul Lal as the outspoken gang member, Khalid Rahman as the righteous and slightly naive driver, and Chandu Salimkumar as the shaken gang member were some of the noticeable performances as they weren’t familiar faces on camera. It would be redundant to appreciate each one by name, and I would give the credit to casting director Ganapathy, as pretty much every character on screen looked authentic.

The level of production quality in the final output of Manjummel Boys is truly phenomenal. The movie’s sound design is used differently at many points to depict the scale of the incident in the most effective way. Characters are measuring the depth of the hole by listening to a falling pebble. The scene where the members hear the distant voice of Subhash is also done superbly on an audio level. Do try to watch this movie from the biggest possible screen with a quality audio system, as that is very essential to get the impact of the event.

Final Thoughts

With the realness in the frame making you feel the same level of nervousness the characters were feeling, Manjummel Boys is a visually spectacular film that never enters a zone of cheesiness.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.