Judging by the title, it's easy to think 'Purusha Pretham' (Male Ghost) is a full-fledged horror flick. After all, one doesn't add 'ghost' in the title just to sound funny. But 'Purusha Pretham' directed by Krishand is more of a social satire that rides on ambiguity, yet keeps you engaged with the right dose of humour and intrigue.
The neo-noir film takes off by introducing the lead character Sebastian, a police officer, played by Alexander Prashanth, who is a man with an inflated ego. He is nicknamed Super Sebastian, because of his fondness to tell stories of his escapades with criminals. The narrative takes an interesting turn when a worm-infested corpse surfaces in a lake under the police station limits. Since no one arrives to claim the body even after three days, the corpse is buried. A day later, a woman named Susan (played by Darshana Rajendran) arrives at the station, demanding to see the face of the corpse as her husband has gone missing for some days.
The makers have used a lot of shadowy visuals, to build up the suspense of the film. Since the story does not follow a linear narrative, it may seem a little jarring, especially since the camera makes quick cuts between scenes, even before we can guess what's happening. Nevertheless, the situational comedy and the sarcasm among the cops will tickle your funny bones, in a couple of places. The lime juice, which is in constant supply at the police station, will remind you of the 'chai' scene which was overdone in Alphonse Puthren's 'Gold'. In 'Purusha Pretham', it's used more for the sake of black comedy.
Some of the characters in the film, especially Susan, are sketchy. Though she appears to have a criminal tendency, we are unsure of her motives till the end. The sinister look she gives Sebastian when she challenges him is one of the highlights of the movie. The performances by Alexander Prashanth and Jagadish (who plays Sebastian's subordinate) are very impressive. Jeo Baby, who is the producer of the film, also appears in the film.
Just like Krishand's previous works, 'Aavasavyuham', which won the Kerala State Award for Best Film last year and 'Vrithakrithyilulla Charthuram', even 'Purusha Pretham' has a social theme. The makers have been able to drive home the message, through the situations the police officers face. The film is also experimental and does not stick to the traditional mode of storytelling.
(The film is streaming on SonyLiv)