In any crime noir movie, to keep the audience hooked till the end, the writers will have to stick to keeping the narrative engaging and create enough mystery about the lead and other supporting characters. The dark side of a profession, the dirty work that needs to be done, and the search for the ultimate truth. This and more makes for a good noir. “Purusha Pretham,” a satirical crime noir directed by Krishand, takes the audience through the dark alleys of police procedures when it comes to unclaimed bodies found by the cops and how they handle or mishandle such cases Will the police force make sure to not topple the crucial case in hand?
About Super Sebastian
SI Super Sebastian has always been known for tackling rowdies and goons in the most action-hero manner. He retells the tales of his heroism to those who idolize him. Super Sebastian is the kind of police officer who has a reputation that surpasses even the goons that are supposed to be the scary ones. His subordinate, Dileep, is someone who idolizes Sebastian and shares his tales in the most exaggerated manner. Sebastian is the kind of police officer who thrives on his popularity. Sebastian loves the attention he gets from narrating his stories but there is also a fact that he knows his job really well. He is a single man who loves being that way, and he is someone who dedicates time to taking care of his aging mother. Known for being as corrupt as any other police officer in the force, that does not stop Sebastian from being the star of the show, which is his life. His peers always believe his stories, even though, in reality, the actual incidents must have been dramatically different from the way he describes them.
Sebastian and his subordinate, Dileep, are like two peas in a pod. Sebastian has a way of doing things at work, and Dileep makes sure to finish the work as per the instructions given by Sebastian. Dileep rarely opposes Sebastian’s orders, as even though Dileep has the most experience being a police officer, Sebastian is higher up the hierarchy. Dileep is always game to do that for Sebastian because he knows his boss will have his back and vice versa. Dileep does not live lavishly, but he has enough to make sure he can shelter his daughter and his son-in-law at the police quarters. There is always tension as to why Dileep must be in Sebastian’s service all the time, keeping in mind the number of service years Dileep has. Dileep and Sebastian have formed a camaraderie after working at the same police station for a while, and theirs is just an official relationship.
The Dead Body Sprung Up
Amongst all the work that the police do, the police officers have to determine if a particular crime was committed in their jurisdiction. This sets the precedence for how the case would be handled. A bunch of men spot a body floating around in the water that caused a rampant stench that has engulfed the entire surrounding area. The police team reaches the spot spearheaded by Sebastian and his subordinates, including Dileep. They are having a hard time figuring out the jurisdiction of the dead body because they would want the dead body to float away into other territory. The police are aware of the ordeal that comes with unclaimed dead bodies, and they are not willing to take it up as of now.
There is a police team from another jurisdiction on the other side of the water body facing a dilemma similar to Sebastian’s, one of not wanting to claim a 3-to-4-day old body. Both police stations know of a man named Kesavan who helps them work with the dead body in such cases, a handyman to handle the dirty work. Kesavan, this time is hired by the police from the opposite side of the river to make sure to push the body into Sebastian’s jurisdiction. The body is now under Sebastian’s jurisdiction, and they will have to get to work on the case. Kesavan reveals to Dileep that he stole the ring from the dead body, which angers the police officer. Dileep takes away the ring, only for him to keep it with himself and hide it in his home. Dileep remains at an impasse as to whether he should sell the evidence and collect the money off it or submit it to the mortuary as part of the evidence. Dileep’s one decision to keep the ring away, little did he know, would change the course of his work from here on. Dileep keeps the ring only with a sense of confusion.
Sebastian and Dileep take up the case reluctantly, but they have to make sure the dead body is identified. There is a sense of lethargy in everybody to take up the small task, but the police officers treat everything as work and not as their duty as a part of helping society. Sebastian and his team are treating this case of an unidentified body as something they want to get rid of as soon as possible, to close without conducting any proper investigation to make sure the body is identified. This is an accurate representation of the state of the police in the country, where they only believe in spreading fake heroic stories, but on the ground level, only a few are willing to work for the people around them and help tirelessly.
With the body left unidentified for three days straight, the doctor at the mortuary gets restless, for there is no space to place other dead bodies that come by as a part of his job. Dileep consults Sebastian and asks him to bury the body at a public cemetery. As per the law, the body must be buried in the presence of the police officers, and the police are known for being lethargic with the handling of law and order. Sebastian assigns the burial work to Dileep, and Dileep, in turn, assigns the work to the gravedigger at the public cemetery, who has been working with the police for a while and is aware of the procedures. There is a stagnation that festers from the fact that the superior officers sitting in the station would not want to get their hands literally dirty, and that’s why they assign a lot of menial jobs to their subordinates in the hope they’ll do the job correctly and pick up the intricacies of the profession along the way.
Sebastian, on the other hand, is hanging around Sujatha, who had come by his police station to file a complaint against her missing husband. Their meeting turns into a rendezvous because she is not yet a widow until her husband is found dead, and Sebastian is also not keen on a committed relationship. This comes across as a convenient arrangement for both, but they end up spending a lot of time talking. Sebastian considers himself the boss of all, for he has a voice in his head that works like a walkie-talkie that sends him a message and helps him tackle any situation. Sebastian loves the fact he always remains in control of his life without any outside factor bothering it.
‘Purusha Pretham’ Ending Explained: Is Sebastian Dead? What Is The Real Story Here?
With the burial of the unidentified body, Sebastian and his subordinate, Dileep, hope this will be the end of the case for them. Enter Susanna, from another part of the city, to claim that the dead body, news of which was published in a local newspaper might belong to her husband, and she wants to check out the dead body to confirm. Susanna is sure that the body belongs to her husband, but Sebastian and Dileep are not keen on exhuming the body because it requires a long, strenuous procedure that might create a hassle and the worry that exhuming the body would bring up various disparities. He only has a few months remaining in the force, after which he will retire, so he would not want any trouble by the end of his tenure as a policeman. Sebastian also was not present at the burial procedure, and that’s why he is also not very keen on exhuming the body. Susanna gives a description that does not match the description that Sebastian and his team has. Sebastian and his team make this the only reason why the body cannot be touched after the burial. Susanna claims her husband went out of the house to look for something at night, but never came back home. A missing person case was filed by her with the local police at her locality, but they found no trace of him. It’s been a while since her husband disappeared, and Susanna would want closure, that’s why an exhumation procedure is important for her. The body was buried a few months ago, and an exhumation would mean the matter would go up to Sebastian’s superiors, and there might be a chance that it would make things worse for him and Dileep.
Susanna also brings in the lawyer to prove her right to see the dead body, but Sebastian refuses. Sebastian has been overconfident in the power he carries and the support he has amongst his peers, especially in Dileep. Dileep also fuels his ego and goes against their better judgment by refusing to let Sussana see the dead body, which she is sure belongs to her husband. Out of frustration, Susanna files a habeas corpus, which forces the police to exhume the body as per the court order, making it easier for her to find out more about the status of the dead body. Sebastian and his superiors and subordinates are under fire for not only burying the body in just three days but also for refusing to cooperate with Susanna’s request.
The team never imagined Susanna would take this drastic step, which would put all of their jobs in jeopardy. The body exhumation process begins, but to everyone’s shock, the body is not found, and Dileep and Sebastian are again under fire for misconduct with the dead body. Dileep finally reveals that he was not present at the public cemetery during the burial procedure, and this not only puts pressure on Sebastian but also on Dileep, for they messed with procedures, and they might get grilled for mishandling a dead body. All the policemen present at the site make sure to begin the blame game while no one is willing to take responsibility for what exactly happened to the dead body. Dileep wouldn’t want to fall into trouble for this miscalculation, and he is expecting Sebastian to help him out. But Sebastian is put under scrutiny for approving the burial in this manner and Sussana starts blaming the force for misplacing her husband’s body and accusing them of selling his body to a medical college.
These two are severe accusations that will surely put a lot of pressure on the police to resolve the matter. Sebastian’s seniors are forced to suspend him and Dileep until a further investigation proves them innocent. Sebastian wants to prove himself right because he is sure the description Susanna provided did not match the report of the dead body. Sebastian’s reputation precedes him, and that is the main reason his superiors do not trust his words. Sebastian is power-hungry and corrupt, but he is sure the body does not belong to Susanna’s husband, as the woman claims. Because of him, Dileep’s career is on the line just months before his retirement. Along with Sebastian, Dileep is sure of what his boss claims. Sebastian and Dileep go on the hunt to look for the man who conducted the burial. This man is the only link to help them get out of suspension. The said man, Gopalan, is found drunk, but he helps them find the unidentified body, which is taken out for a final DNA examination, something that will prove who is right or wrong.
Dileep and Sebastian were confident that the final report would be in their favor. They can only hope their suspension will be revoked once the report is out and they can prove that they were right from the beginning. They are sure that the report will salvage their careers. But to their horror, the report comes in favor of Sussana, and from then on, they are sure about the fact that their jobs are in dire trouble. With the report out, from here on, they see a bleak future for themselves and there is no way they can get off this hellish journey. Sebastian knows he is corrupt, but he knows he did his work well and his conclusions are not wrong. Dileep reveals to Sebastian that he has the ring in his possession, which was found on the body. Sebastian is livid because presenting this piece of evidence will lead to their dismissal as well. Dileep reveals that he did the work assigned to him as instructed by Sebastian, and Sebastian will have to stop berating him in public in this way. The fact remains that Dileep was willing to submit the ring and face the consequences of his act just to make sure Sebastian and himself were not deemed bad police officers. Susanna’s description of her husband suggested that he never wore any jewelry; Dileep’s evidence would turn the case in their favor.
Sebastian keeps the ring to himself and after his fall out with Dileep; he goes through the lowest of the lows until one day, he finally decides to come out of it by helping his mother. He requests Sujatha, his fling from a year ago, to help him take care of his aging mother. She agrees to do so if he pays for the work. As Sujatha starts working at Sebastian’s, he and Sujatha start liking each other and eventually fall in love. Sujatha and Sebastian finally find common ground to like each other, and it is easy for Sebastian to fall in love with her and for them to start being comfortable in each other’s presence. Sebastian also includes Sujatha’s son in his life, and he is more than happy to have found contentment. Sujatha one day finds the ring in Sebastian’s possession, and she confronts him about it. Sujatha reveals that the ring belonged to her missing husband, and she is angry that Sebastian never revealed he had it. This is the breakthrough Sebastian was waiting for because he finally concludes that the ring belongs to Sujatha’s husband, which means the dead body was Sujatha’s missing husband and not Susanna’s husband, as per the report that was submitted to the police and the court. Sebastian tries to contact all his superiors, but no one is willing to help him.
Sebastian decides to confront the woman himself. Susanna is on her way back to America when Sebastian comes by to confront her and he faces her and her lawyer. He puts across what he knows about the body and accuses Sussana of killing her husband. Susanna agrees that she bribed a lot of officials to get the report in her favor, but she did not kill her husband. She reveals that her husband, Bobby, was physically and emotionally abusive to her. She was glad that he had disappeared, but she needed closure to move back to America. She agrees that Sebastian and Dileep became collateral damage for her end goal, but she did what she had to do. The lawyer was the one who gave her this idea, and Sebastian is angry because he was forced to take the fall for something he was not guilty of.
Susanna wanted her husband dead, but she did not initiate any plan to kill him. Neither does Sebastian have any proof to prove that he is right or wrong nor does she. A ring would also not prove anything, but he was glad that Susanna revealed that she knew it wasn’t her husband’s body. This satisfies his curiosity until he is attacked by her brother.
In that moment of stress, Susanna reveals that she was the one who asked her brother to kill her husband, which shocks the lawyer as well. Susanna and her brother throw the unconscious Sebastian in the well with the hope he will die and rot there while they fly back to America, never to come back. Susanna’s mind goes into troubleshooting mode the moment Sebastian falls; this means she has done this work before, and she is not panicking. Sebastian had intended on going ballistic on the woman because of whom he lost his job, but hearing her predicament makes him change his mind, and he lets her go on the grounds of letting her save herself.
Sebastian saves himself from the well, and he does what he does the best: retell his heroic stories. He reveals that he saved himself from the well on a rainy night when he was confronted by the escaping siblings. Sebastian gathers all the strength he needs to confront them when they hit him with his car, which causes injuries to his body. Sebastian is happy to have narrated this incident to his colleagues. It is evident that he seeks happiness from the fact that, even though he was not involved in any heroics, people believe his words. In reality, Sebastian had let Dileep know of his intention to head to Susanna’s place, and Dileep, by the end of the ordeal finds the injured Sebastian, who informs him that Sussana and her brother have escaped. Dileep is the kind of subordinate one should always have by their side—someone who will always remain loyal to the boss and probably a friend forever. This is the kind of validation he wants to live with, possibly until his last breath.
“Purushu Pretham,” which means the Male Ghost, is all about the setup that the writers Ajith Haridas and Manu Thodupuzha wanted to create using police procedures. This film has a hint of noir, satire, and dark humor; all embellished into one package to give you an excellent thriller that is unpredictable but not without its trail of breadcrumbs. With an inkling of horror elements in the film as well, the writers balanced all these genres to give us an excellent story about a corrupt police officer who is trying to find the reality behind the case that deemed him out of work, albeit briefly.
The story and the screenplay do not meander at any point, and there are no unnecessary subplots introduced. The climax was well executed and ending it with humor brings the movie full circle, for it began with the same setup and ended with the same setup. Some intelligent dialogue makes the film shine like a bright diamond. Though the film reeks of “Mukundan Unni Associates” in terms of humor, the story and the screenplay, and its execution is brand new and different. The direction and cinematography by Krishand are excellent. The framing was kept in such a way as to make sure the viewer is not distracted, and the focus is just on the character in the frame. This film in technical terms goes into a win-win category, and the editing by Suhail Backer makes the film crisp from the beginning till the end. Quick shots of paperwork in the film are reminiscent of the shots in the film “Requiem for a Dream.” The story is a straightforward narrative which does not stagnate. Krishand has again proved to be a master storyteller. “Purusha Pretham” is a must-watch.
“Purusha Pretham” is a Malayalam crime comedy film directed by Krishand.