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<div class="paragraphs"><p>Fahadh Faasil in&nbsp;<em>Malik.</em></p></div>
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'Malik' Review: Fahadh Faasil, Mahesh Narayanan Tell an Intense, Engaging Saga

Here's the review of Fahadh Faasil, Nimisha Sajayan-starrer 'Malik' that's now streaming on Prime Video.

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Movie Reviews
4 min read

'Malik' Review: Fahadh Faasil, Mahesh Narayanan Tell an Intense, Engaging Saga

Alert: This review contains spoilers.

Mahesh Narayanan's Malik is a sweeping narrative that covers several decades in the life of Ahammadali Sulaiman (Fahadh Faasil), a man who represents different personas for different people. He's a powerful and respected community leader in Kerala's coastal areas of Ramadapally and Edavathura, he's also a terror accused for the state and an obstinate hindrance for a couple of ministers who want to make a quick buck. As Malik opens with an over 10-minute-long deftly shot and edited sequence of Sulaiman preparing to leave for Hajj, we get the impression of an intense saga unfolding and the film almost fulfils the promise.

At the very start of Malik, when the foreboding music by Sushin Shyam wafts over the opening credits, as a viewer you know you are in good hands between writer, director, editor Mahesh Narayanan, actors Fahadh, Nimisha Sajayan, Dileesh Pothan and cinematographer Sanu John Varghese.
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Fahadh Faasil in&nbsp;<em>Malik.</em></p></div>

Fahadh Faasil in Malik.

(Photo Courtesy: Amazon Prime Video)

Sulaiman's (fondly called Ali Ikka) growth as an influential local leader who also runs illegal activities follows the text-book narrative seen in films that revolve around desi Godfather-esque films. A school drop-out, after indulging in petty crimes like selling marijuana to tourists, Sulaiman graduates to smuggling. Alongside, we see his growing clout amongst the locals. As a mark of protest against their grounds near the mosque being used as a garbage dump, Sulaiman organises a group to deliver the rotting garbage back to the homes where they came from. He also shuts down a sand-mining project by the state knowing how it would endanger the homes of the local fishing community living by the sea.

When sub-collector Anwar Ali (Joju George) comes to pick up Sulaiman to be questioned in a murder case, he's thrown a smug challenge, "If you can take me away from amidst the people of Ramadapally, try and take me sir". That's the confidence he has and yet his own mother Jameela turns against him.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Fahadh Faasil and Nimisha Sajayan in&nbsp;<em>Malik.</em></p></div>

Fahadh Faasil and Nimisha Sajayan in Malik.

(Photo Courtesy: Amazon Prime Video)

Sulaiman is ably supported by his friends Aboobacker (Dileesh Pothan), David Christudas (Vinay Forrt) and Peter Esthappan (Dinesh Prabhakar). It's his constantly fluctuating dynamics with them that makes the story of Sulaiman's ascent interesting. That and his relationship with Roseline (Nimisha Sajayan). Sulaiman and Roseline's marriage, the birth of their son (baptised as Anthony and later renamed Ameer on Sulaiman's insistence) leads to a breakdown in his relationship with David (Roseline's brother) and eventually creates a rift between the Muslim and Christian communities of Ramadapally and Edavathura.

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Though Sulaiman is considered a representative of the ghettoised Muslim community of Ramadapally, he's a saviour for the oppressed cutting across religious lines till the end. Narayanan's writing clearly outlines how Sulaiman's own people who now walk the corridors of power instigate one community against the other to either settle scores or for personal gains. But Sulaiman is a flawed man who carries the guilt of a dead son and the retaliation to an engineered communal riot on his conscience.

Before leaving for Mecca, Sulaiman tells his concerned sister, "I have quit all ungodly work, so who should I fear now? If someone above Him is waiting to kill me, let it happen."

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Fahadh Faasil and Vinay Forrt in&nbsp;<em>Malik.</em></p></div>

Fahadh Faasil and Vinay Forrt in Malik.

(Photo Courtesy: Amazon Prime Video)

What makes for the most engrossing parts of Malik are the conspiratorial negotiations, strategies and ploys put into action by the police to bump off Sulaiman while he's in jail.

One of the best scenes in the film involves Sulaiman's old friend Abu (now a ruling party MLA) visiting him in jail. The tension between them, the veiled threats and retorts they exchange are played to the hilt by Fahadh and Dileesh.

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It's almost impossible to not recall Mani Ratnam's stellar Nayakan (1987) while watching Malik. You expect someone to ask a frail Sulaiman "Neenga nallavara kettavara?" while he's held in police custody. But besides the moral ambiguity of Kamal Haasan's Velu Naicker, it's the complexity of Sulaiman's circumstances, his religious identity, his inter-faith marriage, constantly changing relationships that make Malik an interesting watch. Also, Narayanan dials down on creating a hero out of Sulaiman. The lensing of his character during his messiah-like sequences are distant, and not designed to make him larger than life, and rightly so. But then does it also make Sulaiman less endearing to the audience thus cutting down in our emotional investment in him?

Fahadh is intense as Sulaiman, though his simmering, grim demeanour for most of the film could be criticised as one-note. Nimisha too keeps a constant stern look and tone as an older Roseline. The larger cast including Dileesh Pothan, Vinay Forrt, Joju George and Indrans competently handle their parts in the narrative. Malik belongs to Narayanan who has written, directed and edited the film. It's an ambitious venture from the man behind Take Off and C U Soon. The film is well crafted and would have been a more rewarding experience to watch on the big screen. Masterfully told, despite the obvious comparisons to Nayakan, Malik holds its own, carving a place for itself as one of the best films of the year.

Rating: 3.5 Quints out of 5

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