Sometimes, simplicity is the best approach. It works wonderfully in the case of Tovino Thomas' Anweshippin Kandethum. I say this because, at a time when some filmmakers, in their attempt to impress audiences, go overboard with the incorporation of way too many internal and external conflicts and end up with a lacklustre product, Anweshippin Kandethum, directed by Darwin Kuriakose, succeeds by sticking to the essentials.
Simplicity characterises the way Tovino's character, a Sub-Inspector named Anand Narayanan, or his fellow cops played by Rahul Rajagopal, Vineeth Thattil David or Pramod Velliyanad (the last two contribute to rare instances of humour), are etched. They don't boast much depth other than the upright, determined quality or the occasional encounter with confidence-reducing situations. Some might cite this lack of strong character development as a shortcoming, but I wasn't bothered by it. Remember that K.G George's Ee Kanni Koodi, one of the finest investigative thrillers made in Malayalam, didn't bless Sai Kumar's cop with that many notable qualities aside from 'upright', 'strong' and 'determined'.
What's interesting about Tovino's cop is that you can see him slightly as a motivating figure owing to his unwavering focus on the cases -- two, both from two periods -- and the urge to see them through, even if it means going against protocol. But he doesn't have the memorable quality of, say, a Bharatchandran or Sethurama Iyer. But that's fine. Which reminds me, I was thinking of how CBI 5 would've done well had it featured a story like Anweshippin Kandethum instead of going for some laughable concept like "basket killing". Once again, simplicity is the key.
While not immediately apparent from initial observations, a later reflection makes you realise that the two murder cases in the film have common binding factors and are driven by similar emotions, with a final twist you don't see coming. Suffice it to say that the events of the second case wouldn't have been as interesting had we not seen what happened in the first. In that regard, Anweshippin Kandethum may invite comparisons to Kannur Squad, but the intentions differ. It doesn't come with lofty ambitions as the Mammootty film. However, like that film, one can sense the potential for exploring further adventures of Anand Narayanan if Anweshippin Kandethum garners a healthy theatrical response.
Given that Anweshippin Kandethum takes place in the early 90s, it is important to make us feel as though we have been transported to that time, which the film manages to do on account of its meticulous attention to details, be it the production design (by Dileep Nath) that makes use of the necessary props that characterised an era yet untainted by technology. The homes of some of the characters, for instance, are designed keeping in mind their economic status, and it's not just the interiors of the houses that are evocative of a bygone era but also the shops and hotels with vintage colour-drained posters and walls that have that lived-in look. Here, too, the film impresses by not going overboard.
It's also impressive at creating an atmosphere loaded with a fair amount of intrigue and menace. Saiju Sreedharan's editing keeps things moving at an even pace. There's no drop in interest. The minimalism also applies to the work of cinematographer Gautham Shankar (Theevandi, Thankam), who bathes the characters in shadows and amber, with the skilful hands of the art department complementing his frames with a brown-and-green-dominated colour palette that goes well with the actors' costumes (by Sameera Saneesh). Santhosh Narayanan's atmosphere-heavy orchestral score, evocative of international investigative thrillers, also works to the film's advantage.