An OTT release that reaches us before its promised hour is one among the little joys of life. The Dulquer Salman-starrer Salute released quite early on Thursday on Sony Liv (originally slated to come out on Friday), leaving many confused whether the makers got the dates mixed up. But hey, nobody’s complaining. This Rosshan Andrrews directorial makes for an absorbing, slow-burn investigative thriller, for the most part. However, the movie’s investigative angle often feels like a guise. The writer duo, Bobby and Sanjay, have gone all out in establishing the fact that the ‘police system’ is broken, and that years of service will eventually beat the conscience out of you. Salute can be perceived as a commentary on the compromised ethics of the police department as a result of political and hierarchical pressure.
Aravind Karunakaran (Dulquer Salman) is part of a team investigating the Martin-Sheeba twin murder case. With the team running out of leads to explore and pressure from the ruling party dangerously mounting, the team, led by Aravind’s brother Ajith Karunakaran (Manoj K Jayan), decides to implicate (read frame) the suspect. A few months later, they find out that they nabbed the wrong guy, which gravely disturbs Aravind, who is high on beginner’s conscience. While Aravind is all for righting the wrong, his brother and the rest of the team are not so keen as they are aware of the consequences that would have on their careers. So they decide to keep mum and move on. Aravind bypasses his team and takes it up with his superior, only to realise that moral corruption in the department goes all the way to the top, reminding him of his brother’s words: “That’s how the system works.” A disillusioned Aravind goes on a five-year-long leave to study law. Two years later, he got himself sucked right back into the case. An interesting cat-and-mouse game ensues between Aravind and Ajith, with the former always a step ahead of his brother this time, all the while building the suspense towards revealing the true killer.
The climax is where the writers seem to have lost interest in the case themselves, providing no proper ending and in a hurry to close things out.
The scenes between Dulquer and Manoj K Jayan are the standout moments of Salute. Struggling to keep up with their appearances within a close-knit family while being engaged in a heated game of one-upmanship makes for an interesting, and even fun, watch. Not giving the killer a face and letting the audience conjure up an image with the mention of a few physical characteristics was a nice touch. The killer’s mode of operation gives him shades of Sukumara Kurup, who Dulquer by now is no stranger to.
Though he’s done justice to his role, Dulquer’s character arc seemed single-tone. When the movie ends, Aravind is somewhat right where he started, pushing the audience to think whether the protagonist should have been so polished that it looks a bit unrealistic. Manoj K Jayan, on the other hand, delivers a performance that hits a lot closer to home. It was also a joy to watch him on screen after a long time. Binu Pappu, Alencier, Indrans and Shaheen Siddique have all done a decent job of their roles. The women in the movie do not have much to do. Diana Penty’s character seemed out of place, while Saniya Iyappan plays the quintessential niece.
Rosshan Andrrews did good by sticking to the heart of the story without digressing much, helping him deliver a good-enough crime thriller.
A police story with big names usually tends to go overboard with punch dialogues and action sequences. Salute stands out in this aspect by keeping it as grounded as possible.
Sreekar Prasad’s tight editing deserves a special mention. Jakes Bejoy knew what was required of him and executed it to perfection. Never once did the background music seem obtrusive or over-the-top.
Watch it on Sony Liv.