One more Malayalam gem, this one sparkling with an ominous shine. I wonder how on earth the team behind this laudable film decided to go ahead with an idea that on paper, must have sounded more like a web series than a feature film. A series of cybercrimes are being investigated and exposed by Kochi’s cyber cell.
The narrative is so uneven and so unheedful of narrative guidelines that I often feared it would collapse on its zigzag trail.No such calamity befalls this masterly study of crime and punishment. Films on cybercrimes are still rare in our country. This one, I hope would lead to more cinematic explorations of the dark world of the web. I will never forget the haunted face of the woman who is shown visiting the cybercrime office with her husband time after time, determined to prove that the woman in a porn clip gone viral is not she.
The cases that the film threads its way through are haphazard in their progression. Writer-director Tharun Moorthy makes no effort to impose any kind of creative or moral order on the episodes. And that is for the best. Here is a prevalent malaise, almost a pandemic of the virtual world, where incredible frauds are committed over unsuspecting people. Moorthy follows the trail of the investigations with care curiosity and a keen commitment to making the cases accessible and interesting to us the viewers, but never at the cost of credibility.
The tone of concentrated energy never falters. There are no frills, no songs and other diversions. Our heroes are two cyber cell interns Anthony (Balu Varghese) and Vinaya Dasan (Lukman Avaran). They are the kind of inconspicuous nobodies nobody gives a second glance. But Anthony and Vinaya want to make a difference. To their own lives. And that of the others. That opportunity comes when their considerable knowledge of the internet cracks a case of movie piracy (for the record the pirated film was the Malayalam Nivin Pauly-Sai Pallavi starrer Premam in 2015). The inseparable friends are offered a chance to intern at the cyber cell for a princely salary of Rs 10,000 each.
To Anthony and Vinaya, this is their chance to do something with their lives. Their relentless pursuit of closure to cybercrimes unfolds in one interesting case after another, all based on real incidents. For example, the cyber fraud involving the employment of Keralite nurses in Ireland and the murder of a housewife by a delivery boy, are both a part of the narrative. These cases are re-opened like wounds that never heal.
The writer-director saves up the best, the case of the murdered housewife for the last. Though it comes on at a juncture in the storytelling when everything is over, it nonetheless jumps at us with its riveting reconstruction of the swift action by the cyber heroes to nab the criminal. Like I said, finding a neat structure is not a priority for Operation Java. Bringing out the various dynamics of the working of cyber crime cell is the need of the hour. The film nails it.
Also, interesting is the politics in the cyber cell office. While one kindly senior Ramnathan (Vinayakan) looks after Anthony and Vinaya and even makes them speak to his physically disabled wife on his phone, another senior Basheer (Prashanth Alexander) wants the two hardworking “outsiders” to just leave. This is an important relevant film that we all must-see. Because none of us is immune to cybercrimes. That face in the blue film can make you red in the face.
Directed by Tharun Moorthy, Operation Java gets 3 and a half stars!
Image source: VCinemasInternational,thenewsminute
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