Nishad Ebrahim’s directorial debut, Amala, falls into the crime and psychological thriller genres but unfortunately ends up doing justice to neither of them. Amidst a series of killings of young women, a young police officer is entrusted with finding the dangerous killer behind them. It turns out that just before these murders came to light, a notorious criminal finally managed to jump jail after a string of trials in the past. Despite having a decent star cast, the movie fails to hold attention or be as remotely thrilling as it promises to be. The narrative falters on many fronts, with a weak plot and screenplay, bland dialogue, poor direction, haphazard dubbing, and disappointing and uninspired performances by several actors. What is its saving grace, if there’s any at all?
Anarkali Marikar and Appani Sarath’s performance, which shines in a few moments, and Gopi Sunder’s music That’s just it, unfortunately. The film just randomly picks the plot, subplots, and characters, and at no point do they tie in with each other or make much sense. The lack of emotional depth or a sensible plot makes it hard to really understand or like any character. You’re not on the edge of your seat during a single moment of this supposed thriller, and if anything, you may find yourself grinding your teeth and rolling your eyes as you wait for the agony to end.
How Do The Murders Take Place?
The voiceover of a police inspector briefing his seniors plays out as we’re shown the beautiful locales and dense forests that lie along the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. He informs them that there are no roads in this area and that only a river flows through the dense forests, making it likely that their suspect is taking refuge here. A woman working in the IT sector is found dead on a park bench in the wee hours of the morning, and the case falls into the able hands of ACP Akbar Ali and his partner George. Amidst speculation of a possible suicide, Akbar finds a pair of spectacles a few meters away from where the woman’s body was found, proving that the woman may have found herself in a scuffle before her death. Parallely, we see that Sherin’s cab has broken down on the way to her uncle’s house. While she waits for another cab to pick her up, Sherin calls her uncle and promises not to divulge anything about her aunt’s ill health to her mute cousin, Celine.
As Akbar and George interrogate the murdered woman’s office colleagues, they find that she has had a string of relationships with multiple men, which leads George to believe that she took her own life. It’s sad that the filmmaker thought it was okay for George to casually remark that women of this kind, who have numerous relationships, find themselves at a crossroads and suddenly take their lives. While Akbar does not share his sentiment and feels like there is someone more sinister involved in the murder, no evidence is presented to support this thought. Meanwhile, Sherin’s new cab driver comes across as a bit of an oddball—he’s constantly looking at her through the front mirror, listening in on her conversations, and smiling to himself. The driver notices a man on a bike closely following them and peering inside the car to look at Sherin, leading us to believe that he is the friend Sherin is talking to and inviting to her uncle’s house.
When Sherin requests the driver stop at a store and get her a bottle of water, he notices the same man’s bike parked on the side and goes on to nick his keys for no apparent reason. Akbar and George are informed about another body that is found in a house. They soon find out that the murdered man worked as a cab driver for an agency. Their superior also informs them about a jailbreak convict who escaped just a few days before the first murder came to light. While they chase that lead, we see Celine coming back home after college and being informed by the watchman that Sherin will be arriving shortly to spend the night. As Sherin is nearing Celine’s house, which is in dense forests, the cab driver starts telling her how dangerous these areas are and how she shouldn’t venture out at night because there are too many wild animals on the prowl. It’s as if the cab driver is uncomfortable that Sherin has invited a male friend over and will go to any length to scare her off. When Celine comes out to greet Sherin, we see the cab driver look at her and have some kaleidoscopic visions before muttering Amala in surprise.
How Does Basil Become The Prime Suspect In The Murders?
Akbar and George’s chase leads them to a nun who used to visit Basil in jail before he escaped. She tells them that his mother, Esther, was known to have some mental instability that led her to torch her own house, killing her husband. The nun took Basil under her wing after he was orphaned when his mother died in childbirth. Basil seemed to be a loner and sort of carefree until Amala joined his school and class. Something about Amala pulled Basil very close to her, and they formed an immediate bond, walking to and fro from school, sharing stories, and always hanging out. What initially seems like a harmless childhood friendship soon begins to grow into something more sinister on Basil’s side. He begins to dislike Amala spending time with others or anyone else, even looking her way.
So, when a senior at school approaches him with a love letter, asking him to hand it to Amala on his behalf, he gets absolutely livid. He begins having these visions of Amala walking hand in hand with the senior, possibly acting on his insecurity that she might leave him. He asks the senior to wait at a spot near the forest and promises to bring Amala there so he can confess his love to her in person. Just as the senior begins talking to Amala, Basil picks up a metal pipe from the ground and swings it at his head, injuring him and shocking Amala.
While Basil had clear intentions about his actions toward the senior, it seems like he brought Amala along to witness them as his way of showing how much he loved her. But obviously, that backfires, and Amala is scared beyond measure, so she begins running away from him. Because she loses her spectacles in the process and is running wildly, she ends up toppling over a rock and falling headlong into the stream coursing through the forest. Basil screams her name into the waters, watching helplessly as she sinks to her death. But even after witnessing this horrible tragedy, he continues bolting after the senior before pinning him down and clobbering him to death with the pipe he held in his hand the entire time. It becomes clear that Amala’s death has adversely affected Basil because he comes back from the scene in a shattered state of mind, having continuous visions and muttering phrases like “Amala is gone” and “I killed him.” The nun pieces things together and calls the police, but he runs away before they arrive. Akbar realizes that Basil sees some women as Amala, possibly having a link that ties them to his deceased friend, and that he is killing them all because of it. Maybe because, in a way, Basil thinks that Amala sort of betrayed him by leaving him alone.
Why Does Basil Go After Celine?
After dropping Sherin off at Celine’s, Basil, who is still in the guise of a cab driver, comes back after nightfall. He has no doubt that Celine is, in fact, his Amala, and he has to meet and talk to her. He enters the watchman’s cabin, asking him if he has any diesel to spare because his car has run out and he needs to travel back. When the watchman says he doesn’t have any and asks him to clear off the property, we see something switch inside of Basil—like he’s not fond of people talking down to him. After brutally killing the watchman, he cleans himself up and makes his way to the house. At this point, his face looks absolutely sinister, like he has no control over his mind and impulses. When he tells Sherin about the diesel problem, she calls her friend and asks him to carry a can of it when he is making his way down here. However, his impulses get the better of him, and because he’s desperate to make contact with Celine, whom he thinks is Amala, he ends up grabbing Sherin by her throat and killing her.
When he approaches Celine, calling her Amala, he does not think that the woman standing before him could be anyone else. The pained look in his eyes as he tells her how many sleepless nights he has spent looking for her comes from deep within him because he is not putting on an act; he’s just really baring his heart out. He has known nothing but remorse since the happenings of that fateful day and has made apologies to her, saying that he did not mean for things to turn out as they did and begging her not to be afraid of him. It becomes increasingly clear that he just wants their relationship to go back to being as it was before things got bad—where it is just them and their friendship against the world. After trying to avoid coming into the hands of Basil, Celine ultimately gets caught and is immediately knocked out. We see Basil carrying her over to a secluded area deep into the forest before eventually placing her at the mouth of a well. He lays her head down on his lap, and when she comes to, the shock of seeing his face leads her to react suddenly, and she ends up falling into the well. Once again, Basil finds himself in the unfortunate position of bearing witness to ‘Amala’s’ death.
Does Basil Get Caught In The End?
Akbar and George’s search leads them to the area of Celine’s house, where they see a lone car parked around the corner. As they get out to explore, Akbar notices Basil sitting down by the car in an injured condition. Having his suspicions about who he is, he offers to drive Basil to a nearby hospital to get looked at. However, Basil quickly realizes that Akbar is a police officer and jumps out of his moving jeep. Akbar immediately follows on his heels, determined to catch him before he kills any more women. Amidst a tussle, Basil takes Akbar’s gun and ends up firing at George before throwing mud into Akbar’s eyes and running away. Akbar immediately recovers and runs behind Basil, shooting him. Assuming that he has shot Basil enough to prevent him from escaping anymore, he turns to go check on George. However, Basil, who fell into the river, managed to swim to safety. Even as Akbar’s superior entertains the thought that Basil is indeed dead and he probably just sunk into the waters, Akbar nurses the nagging thought of him being alive after all. We see that Basil has indeed survived and is now working at a water company, possibly in another city. As he arrives at a woman’s house to deliver a can of water, we see him call her Amala with a smile of recognition on his face, indicating that he will continue to kill women until he is caught and stopped.