Action Hero Biju’s title leads you to think that it’s a cartoon type cop story, maybe something over the top like Singham. What it is, is really a surprise — a complex story of what it would really feel like to ride along with Sub-Inspector Biju Palouse throughout his day. From the rare exciting chase down of a criminal, to acting as a sort of family court judge in mundane every day issues.
Nivin Pauly is just fantastic as Biju. He is what I guess is equivalent to the police captain of his station. He deals with lots of small issues himself, as judge and jury. When a young girl is bitten by a dog — a dog sent to attack her by a rich jerk — Biju is on the case. He nabs the guy, and humiliates him, not bowing to the pressure of politicians trying to get him to ignore the case. It’s glorious to watch.
When a young woman comes in because she’d worked for 50 days for a company and only received the 1000 rupee advance. Biju calls in the company owners, and then when they won’t pay the woman, he demands their company paperwork. Finding a technicality he can charge them with, he then turns on his righteous anger.
Biju is almost like an Andy Griffith type character, complete with bumbling deputies who lose their radios and accidentally shoot their guns in the station. But I wish that he could just solve everything with words like Andy Griffith.
Biju uses discernment, going after the drug dealer plaguing a school, but letting of the kids found with him off after scaring them half to death. And that’s my main issue with the film. Nivin Pauly is masterful at dealing with all the people that come before his desk, except he resorts to beating people with a coconut wrapped in a cloth. He doesn’t just give people tight slaps in the heat of them moment, or roughly throw suspects down as he’s chasing them down. He uses beating as his judgement and as a scare tactic. He doesn’t do it in a fit of anger, but just part of his methods. His anger he can turn off and on, manipulating those brought before his desk.
When a protester comes into his office to talk with about the accusations of beatings, he mocks her and his husband.
I loved so much about Nivin Pauly’s character Biju in this film. He was so sweet with his fiance. And when finally the big action scene comes, he takes on five guys single-handedly in a fantastic fight, complete with big declarative speech. I loved how the film shows not just the exciting big fight catching the hardened criminal, but all the little moments in his day where he really helped ordinary people in his jurisdiction.
I didn’t recognize all the character actors, but the film’s structure was almost like a series of short stories or short films for each case Biju dealt with.
I have very mixed feelings about this film. I thought it was a great script and structure, and the acting was fantastic. This is about as good as I’ve ever seen Nivin Pauly. It’s great seeing him play a mature character, and not a coming of age story.
But I just can’t get past the police beatings, and how matter of fact they are. As I said at the beginning, Nivin Pauly’s Biju is no 2 -dimensional cartoon character. He’s very complex. He’s a hero, even an action hero, and he serves his constituents well. He’s certainly not corrupt, but I just wish he didn’t have to beat suspects as a matter of course. It’s precisely because he’s not presented as larger than life.
Beatings aside, this is a very enjoyable film to watch.
Four stars out of five.