Anuraga Karikkin Vellam fame Khalid Rahman is back with a police story. With the megastar in the lead and a band of youngsters behind him, it could remind one of Nair Saab, Valyettan or the umpteen other movies where Mammootty plays the protector/savior of the pack. But Unda is quite far from the cliché. Written by Khalid Rahman himself along with Harshad, Unda has a different story to tell.During an election season, SI Manikandan (Mammootty) leads a group of freshly trained policemen to a Maoist stronghold to overlook the election duty. Coming from down south, the team is armed with hardly any ammunition that can help defend them from any attack. Unda is not just their tale of survival but one of their honor.Remember the movie Newton, with a similar theme where Rajkummar Rao is sent to oversee election in a Maoist belt? If one is to draw parallels, that is where they cease.
Unda has an entirely different space and vibe from it. Without heavily depending on nationalism, Khalid Rahman takes us into the very heart of the police force. With sufficient help from Sajith Purushan's cinematography and Nishad's tight snips, the narrative achieved a smooth and undeterred flow. Prashanth Pillai's original music score elevates the tension and holds us in.SI Manikandan, a simpleton, is far from invincible. He gets scared, is vulnerable, and yet knows his duty. After a long, long, time Mammootty feels like a real man in flesh and blood than a demi-god, and that's thanks to some solid writing, directing, and of course the actor's merit. And hence, when the scared and vulnerable Manikandan redeems himself in the line of duty you root for him with all your heart. The writing deserves more applause here. Neatly written humor that makes you laugh without puncturing the suspense and tension is a feat not many can achieve. And the humor is in a league of its own. Dark and situational humor cracks you up in the film.
But the impending suspense just keeps you hooked.Unda makes a meek socio-political statement, in that it doesn't exactly follow it through. And it is more of a story than a political statement and hence one may argue about its political correctness. However, that doesn't take away the fact that Unda is an unbridled entertainer with a heart that makes you root for the Kerala Police. It opens your eyes to the gap between the administration, the bureaucracy, and the working force. It opens your eyes to the fact that the police force is but made of men with human needs, feelings and flaws. And that all the shortcomings and flaws withstanding, they too give up lot for the state machinery to function.