Language : Malayalam
Director : Abhinav Sunder Nayak
Writers : Vimal Gopalakrishnan, Abhinav Sunder Nayak
Cast : Vineeth Sreenivasan, Suraj Venjaramoodu, Tanvi Ram, Ranjith, Arsha Baiju, Sudheesh, Sudhi Koppa, Salim Kumar
Genre : Black Comedy | Drama
Imdb: Mukundan Unni Associates (2022)
Streaming in Theatres Near you.
Spoiler Alert: This review contains spoilers regarding the nature, characters and ending of the film.
It was in 2015 when I watched Dan Gilroy’s much-raved work ‘Nightcrawler’ and it’s a film that still gives me the chills due to the way it presented its leading man. People who have watched the Hollywood flick would recollect how Jake Gyllenhaal’s character (Lou Bloom) tampered with and manipulated incidents for his personal gains. In Abhinav Sundar Nayak’s debut directorial, Mukundan Unni Associates, we are shown a narcissistic lawyer who shares striking similarities with Lou Bloom but is potentially more dangerous than him.
This is not a film for the audience who vouch for positive messaging in cinema since it’s a film where evil bulldozes the good/grey throughout. MUA is an unapologetic and unflinching tale of a man who is ready to go to any extent to attain success in life. He’s least bothered about the route he needs to take to achieve his goal and has absolutely no remorse for his actions. He’s a man of few words who does all of his talking in his head, constantly analysing situations without revealing much to those around him. This makes Mukundan Unni an enigma whose actions and intentions are unpredictable. The film never takes an ethical/moral stance, and it never celebrates its protagonist. It takes us through a period in Unni’s life while also serving as an incredible character study of a ‘not so good’ Unni.
There are some films that, when you leave the theatre, you can’t stop admiring their writing and technical qualities. MUA was one such film for me where I couldn’t stop raving about the writing. It’s super focused and gives enough detailing to almost all characters even when the focus is largely on Mukundan Unni. The structuring of the screenplay is another factor that caught my attention. There is a genuine flow to the events and even the smallest of scenes, like Unni buying a car, hold significant recall value as the film progresses. The decision to treat it as a dark comedy lends it a less cynical tone and keeps it entertaining even when our main character engages in a slew of questionable activities. Both Abhinav and Vimal deserve appreciation for their clear vision and immaculate writing.
Abhinav’s signature is present all over the film. From the voice-over dialogues to the crisp editing and neat direction, this is a confident debut by the editor-turned-director. His quirky sense of humour is on full display with the mind voice narrations, which contribute significantly to MUA being an entertaining watch. Editing by Nidhin Raj Arol and Abhinav is sharp, and there’s hardly a scene that feels like an unwanted fit in the narration. The idea to tweak the aspect ratio for both halves was a good choice as it effectively represents the shift in the scheme of things for Mukundan Unni. Vishwajith’s camera work aids the film in being in that visually pleasing space even when the incidents happening on screen are the exact opposite.
Mukundan Unni easily becomes the career-best performance of Vineeth Sreenivasan. He’s present in almost every frame and plays the part with absolute conviction. For a director/actor who is constantly called out for doing feel-good films, this is a revelation and a potential turning point for the actor. From the stern body language to the stoic expressions, Vineeth gives a measured performance that is both convincing and fun. Another factor that I thoroughly enjoyed was his dialogue delivery. With minimal verbal dialogues, it was necessary for us to feel the authoritativeness of the character and Vineeth delivers it to perfection. Arsha Baiju is both wacky and innocent in her portrayal of Meenakshi. From her expressions to the end punch, she owns the frame whenever she makes an entry. The rest of the cast also gives their best.
Overall, Mukundan Unni Associates is a solid and superior debut by Abhinav Sunder Nayak. It’s one of those films where every department has fired on all cylinders to deliver a technically strong and gratifying product. You might want to stay away from a person like Mukundan Unni, but you would definitely want to watch and enjoy his rags-to-riches story.
Verdict : 5/7 stars
Editor turned director Abhinav Sunder Nayak’s debut movie as a director.