Oru CBI Diary Kurippu
CBI 5: The Brain is a 2022 (Directed by K.Madhu) released recently in theatres, stars the veteran actor Mammootty reprising his role as CBI officer Sethurama Iyer along with an ensemble cast. It is the fifth instalment of CBI film series. It’s a good time to revisit the first movie where it all began, streaming now on Disney Hotstar.
Oru CBI Diary Kurippu, is a murder investigation led by a methodical and shrewd CBI officer—Sethurama Iyer, brilliantly essayed by Mammotty. The film kicks off with the death of a daughter-in-law in a household, followed by a police investigation declaring it a suicide and the case being handed over to CBI due to daughter-in-law’s family’s repeated appeals to higher authorities.
The film released in 1988 still packs a punch in terms of storytelling and terrific acting. Mammootty has to be singled out, for his portrayal of a hero who has all the authority, yet lets the job and its process decide the course. (A big lesson to all the stars and actors today, to submit themselves to the story and characterisation, instead of resorting to ‘mass’ tactics) Mammotty lets the story build on its own and saves the best for the last. Pages can be written about his acting style and how his character has been conceived, here are just a few.
- In one of the character’s introduction scenes Mammotty speaks to his family over the phone and cajoles his son to attend the school with a promise of chocolates. In one simple scene, the writer establishes the main character’s priorities (his family and profession)and his working style (using force or authority only when it is absolutely needed)
- When his team is on board he communicates clearly how they will proceed with the case—the process they will follow sequentially. That first they will check if corruption took place in the previous police investigation; Second, they will make sure if it were a murder instead of a suicide; Third, re-investigate the whole case to nab the criminal. This scene lays out the framework of his modus operandi as he himself calls it and also the writer in the background who establishes what the hero will do next.
- The writer and actor establish the character’s method and what he thinks about their roles in two brilliant scenes. In one scene, he asks his team not to react to an outburst of a suspect at their guesthouse and ‘focus’ on the job on hand. In another, he presents his open-mindedness and objectivity in taking the feedback from his team member (Suresh Gopi) and acts on it.
- The character of Sethurama Iyer is established as a person who practices what he preaches. There are a few brilliant scenes where Mammootty brushes aside references his caste both as a threat and an attempt to establish kinship, and looks for facts. ‘Focus on the job’ and ‘Objectivity’, both these characteristics come to the fore and vintage Mammotty just uses his persona and body language to present these intrinsic qualities. These scenes are as powerful as a hero beating the goons to a pulp.
- Mammootty the star comes to the fore when he does use his force when cracking a hard nut as he calls it in an interrogation scene. And finally, in the climax when he decides to tighten the noose on the killer and conclude the investigation, he displays the shades of a true commercial hero.
All of the above are a treat to watch as the hero unfolds himself during the course of the movie, and the movie becomes a true origin movie at that. And, a guiding light to the writers to present heroism as a part of the story and that a ‘hero’ doesn’t have to do overt scenes as a display of his power or process. Such writing effort, of course needs an actor of the calibre of Mammotty who can beat the living daylights out of anyone by a mere look.
This film was remade in Telugu with Dr.Rajasekhar in the lead (‘Nyayam kosam’) and in Hindi with Raj Kumar (‘Police Public’). One should check out these movies to get an idea as to how the original idea sometimes gets lost in translation…how a genuine inspiration is allowed to vaporise and transformed into something else, in the name of nativity.
Tailpiece: Eddie Murphy starrer ‘Beverly Hills Cop’(1984) presents an unconventional and an entertaining cop, and is worth a revisit (Streaming on Amazon Prime), which is also famous for its signature tune, the Axel theme. Btw, ‘Oru CBI Diary Kurippu’ theme music is top notch as well.