The core idea in Nizhal is actually a very interesting one. The space of mystery they created gets a very natural build-up. And even though it has intentions of being supernatural, the film is not trying to enter that space. The effort to be coherent is evident in the treatment of Nizhal. But somewhere, I felt the intrigue was missing. The attempts to distract the viewer by offering multiple possibilities somewhere reduced the intensity of the movie.
John Baby is a magistrate who just survived a major car accident. He wears this peculiar-looking mask because of the injury on his nose. Baby, who was going through a PTSD phase, happens to hear about a very young boy Nithin who talks about murder stories. His curiosity to understand the truth behind those stories took him to a very puzzling situation where he struggled to connect the dots. What we see in the movie is John’s efforts to crack this case.
Predictability is always the main obstacle in front of any writer when it comes to creating a thriller. Writer Sanjeev is trying to develop unpredictable moments by creating constant detours from a tentative trajectory. The problem is that the impact of those detours aren’t that strong. When the script goes forward to find the solution, we expect the movie to be emotionally tighter. But I felt that every twist in the tale had the same beat. And also, there is a lack of clarity in why John Baby is so interested in this case.
This is editor Appu N Bhattathiri’s first movie as an independent director, and he does use the visual storytelling medium effectively to an extent. The script uses rain as a differentiator, and it was presented very elegantly on screen. In terms of the editing also we can see cross-cutting happening to build intrigue. As I already said, the tension elevation as new revelations happen in the story is not enough. On paper, this is indeed a thriller that looks pretty tight. The premise, the interval twist, and the climax surprise have enough to convince anyone that there is a good scope in this thriller. But somewhere, the energy wasn’t getting translated into the screen. The background score by Sooraj S Kurup had a good impact on the treatment, while some of the songs struggled to blend in.
Kunchako Boban, as the calm and curious magistrate, was fine. But in scenes where he expresses shock, the expressions were slightly above the meter. It felt like the character John Baby was acting. Nayanthara as Sharmila doesn’t really have much space here to perform as the character isn’t going through any significant shift. Maybe her persona sort of fits the aura of a strong single mother that made the makers go with her for this character. As Nithin, Izin Hash was really impressive. In terms of looking natural on screen, I think he was the best performer. Divya Prabha, as the psychologist, had that serious attitude, but the dialogue delivery was not that smooth (I am guessing the voice was dubbed). Saiju Kurup and Rony David Raj were fine in their respective roles. Njan Prakashan fame Remya Suresh appears in just one scene in the movie, and it was a strikingly good performance.
Nizhal has its moments and keeps you interested in the developments throughout its runtime. It’s just that the treatment wasn’t able to increase the tension as the story progressed. One movie I had a similar feeling was also another Kunchako Boban film, Vettah. The less word count of this review reflects my feelings about this movie; the theme is interesting, but the punch is missing.
Nizhal has its moments and keeps you interested in the developments throughout its runtime. It's just that the treatment wasn't able to increase the tension as the story progressed.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended