We rarely have Tamil and Malayalam films hit the theatres in the same month with the same name. For the latest Malayalam film 'Jailer', the similarities end there. And unlike the Tamil multi-starrer, the Malayalam flick sticks closer to the title. It's the tale of a jailer who tries to reform a group of hard-core criminals through experimental methods. While the intention is good, the slow pace and the overall treatment hamper the viewing experience.
Directed by Sakkir Madathil, who previously wrote films like 'To Let Ambadi Talkies', Jailer has Dhyan Sreenivasan in the lead. Shanta Ram (Dhyan) requests IG to shift five murderers to the jail he manages. He believes the prisoners, given a conducive environment, have the potential to turn for the better.
The correctional tactics, the empathy shown by the jailer to his wards and the relationship between the prisoners form the crux of the story. Makers of 'Jailer' claim the events are based on true events. The evocative visuals by cinematographer Mahadevan Thampi capture the beauty of the Gandhi Gramam, where the prisoners are housed. Rustic songs by Riyas Payyoli help soak in the feel of the countryside. But they all are let down by a patchy script.
There are interesting characters in the movie. Though they have been imprisoned for heinous crimes, they are people with a vulnerable side and are capable of love. However, the duality of their characters feels unconvincing at times, given their brutal past.
It felt that the filmmaker was attempting too hard to prove that goodness and hope are the only virtues needed to triumph over evil. Probably in an ideal world, this could ring true, but in contemporary times, this might feel too simplistic. Despite his stoic expression throughout, Dhyan is good as the reformist jailer. Divya Pillai, Navas Vallikunnu, Binu Adimali, Unni Raja and Sreejith Ravi pull off their characters well.
Overall, the gloomy treatment of the film takes the sheen away from a movie made with good intentions.