CBI 5 Review: Mammootty shines in his comeback as Sethurama Iyer
The CBI series is regarded as the longest running film franchise in the country, with the same director, writer and lead actor. As the trio of K Madhu, SN Swamy and Mammootty reunite for the fifth installment, expectations were sky-high. Let’s see if they manage to live up to the hype.
With ‘CBI 5: The Brain’, the makers have followed the templates as such. Mammootty’s Sethurama Iyer comes late into the film after quite a lot of build up. The criminal is right among the several characters who appear regularly but is only revealed in the final few minutes.
The film begins with a set of new recruits attending a session by senior CBI officials. Renji Panicker and Ramesh Pisharody head the session where they discuss about a case they consider as the most difficult case in CBI history. It is then shown how the team headed by Sethurama Iyer cracked a series of killings that occurred a few years back and the conspiracy behind it.
Named as ‘Basket Killing’ for some weird unknown reasons, the series of killings begin with the death of a State Minister. His personal doctor then dies mysteriously during a trek, one of his assistants goes missing and a police officer investigating these cases gets killed on road. Cops smell a conspiracy and a team headed by DYSP Sathyadas (Sai Kumar) begin the investigation. Known to be a highly corrupt official, Sathyadas’ ways are questionable. He is soon removed as the case is handed over to the CBI. Enters Sethurama Iyer from Delhi and he soon begins untying the knots. Like in all the other four films, the narrative then introduces multiple twists and turns before exposing the mastermind behind the killings.
Mammootty once again gets the Iyer act spot on. There is not one moment where he steps out of the character as he effortlessly pulls off the iconic walk and other mannerisms. Known for his poise and nonviolent approach, Iyer smartly connects the dots and with Mammootty in fine form, everything is convincing. While Mukesh makes a brief appearance as Chacko, Iyer’s associate in the previous films, it is Sai Kumar who scores heavily as Sathyadas. Be it with how he mimicks Sukumaran (whose son he is playing in the film), or his brash approach or his dynamics with his advocate wife (Asha Sarath), Sai Kumar is excellent.
Easily among the best scenes in the film is the one featuring Jagathy Sreekumar as Vikram. It felt so heartening to see the veteran on screen after all these years. And credits to the makers for including the scene not just the sake of it but as a crucial juncture in the plot. When Iyer thanks the Almighty after realising that Vikram is still in his senses, it is just the reflection of what an average Malayali audience might have felt after watching Jagathy performing on screen.
K Madhu and SN Swamy might belong to the old school of filmmaking but they still manage to mask it to a large extent. The final twist (which one can predict if keen attention is paid) and how the crime is solved might not go well with the youth who are exposed to thrillers from across the globe, but it still will work among the families and loyal fans of the CBI franchise. Jakes Bejoy’s recurring usage of the iconic CBI theme music also makes even insipid moments work.
In a nutshell, ‘CBI 5’ works predominantly because of Mammootty and his effortless performance. Sethurama Iyer is one of those rare lovable characters which the audience will lap up each time he returns back to solve a new puzzle. With hints of a sixth part already shown, let’s wait for his return.