Virus is a medical thriller film directed by Aashiq Abu. It is based on the 2018 Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala, the film was written by Muhsin Parari, Sharfu and Suhas. It stars Kunchacko Boban, Asif Ali, Tovino Thomas, Rahman, Indrajith Sukumaran, Soubin Shahir, Sreenath Bhasi, Pothan, Parvathy, Rima Kallingal,Madonna Sebastian, Ramya Nambeeshan and Revathi in lead roles.
Nurse Akhila, who took care of Zachariah, a youth who was admitted to her hospital for fever, headache and vomiting, is now wheeled into the causality at Kozhikode Medical College and she asks to be intubated. “I can’t breathe anymore. My daughter, I breastfed her,” she whines. As Rima Kallingal portrays Akhila with perfection, Malayalis will definitely think back to the heroic, 32-year-old nurse, Lini Puthussery who died treating the first victim of the Nipah virus in Kerala. A year after Kerala witnessed the shocking outbreak, Aashiq Abu comes up with a realistic narrative based on it. Apart from Kozhikode-native Zachariah, more cases are identified in adjacent places and the death toll rises. Slowly, medical professionals confirm that a deadly virus named Nipah is spreading across the districts. It becomes an emergency situation, and medical practitioners and healthcare professionals, led by Health Minister C K Prameela and District Collector Paul V Abraham, camp in Kozhikode to tackle the crisis. The film progresses as a chronological depiction of the real-life experiences in Kozhikode and Malappuram which we are aware through the news reports. It, in a way, pays tribute to scientists, medical professionals and the people who came forward to support the team to solve the virus attack.
A movie with a stellar cast—including Revathy as Health Minister, Parvathy, Rahman, Sreenath Basi, Indrajith and Unni Maya as medical practitioners, Tovino as district collector, Poornima as health service director and Asif Ali, Soubin, Dharshana and Madonna Sebastian as patients—flows at a captivating pace in the beginning. It tells a story that is hard, realistic and a bit close to the bone, as you are aware that the disease is back for real in the State now. However, as the film documents the events from a year back, there seems a lot going on at the same pace, making it difficult to connect at times with any one character in the second half. While trying to create the backstory of each Nipah-affected patient, the writers create various mini dramas, but have they done justice to each one? While in many parts of the film, the makers try to prove that the Nipah outbreak in Kerala isn’t a bio-weapon attack by any other country or organisation (indirect mention that the Central Government wanted it to be so), the director, subtly, brings in a bit of his Leftist politics, suggesting how the LDF government tackled the issue. Ironically, the film is released at a time when a patient in Kochi is under observation due to Nipah virus.
The film’s narrative has a striking resemblance to the Hollywood medical thriller, Contagion. Rajeev Ravi’s cinematography sets the right tone for the docu-fiction. Sushin Shyam’s music is good, but if it gels with the film is another concern. As the film’s central character is Nipah, it is tough to point out any individual performance as remarkable. On the whole, the film can be called as a well-crafted multi-starrer, fictional documentation of news reports on the Nipah virus attack that shocked Kerala and still looms near us