Ahammed Khabeer’s Kerala Crime Files (the full title is Kerala Crime Files: Shiju, Parayil Veedu, Neendakara) opens with the murder of a prostitute named Swapna at the Grand Tourist Hotel. A team of five police officers—S.I. Manoj, C.I. Kurian, C.P.O. Sunil, S.C.P.O. Pradeep, and C.P.O. Vinu—began investigating the case. All they have is an unreliable facial sketch of the murderer, the murderer’s name (Shiju), and the fake address that he had written in the hotel’s register. But since they are given a limited amount of time to solve this mystery, they set out to turn the state of Kerala upside down and only stop when Shiju is found.
A Lot Of Copaganda And Some Commentary On Perverse Men And Helpless Women
Kerala Crime Files takes a meandering route to get to Shiju as it focuses on two things: concealing Shiju’s identity and illustrating the fact that the police are doing their job. I want to be lenient and say that concealing Shiju’s identity and then giving him an anti-climactic reveal is meant to drive home the point that a psychotic killer like him can be an ordinary guy living amongst us. If I don’t show lenience, then the buildup to Shiju’s face reveal feels quite pointless. That said, what is the show saying with its “killers walk amongst us” message? Is it something new? Is it something radical? It’s just a reiteration of something that we know from real life and something that we’ve seen in movies and shows before. So, when that goes nowhere, the show tries to shift its commentary towards abusive and abused men who inflict their perverse imaginations on prostitutes because they see them as objects and not living, breathing human beings.
The show tries to say that sex work isn’t something to be looked down upon, and sex workers shouldn’t be disrespected because it’s still a job. However, when entire generations of men grow up with no sex education and exposure to adult films with derogatory and discriminatory content, they tend to replicate it in real life. This leads to obtuse expectations in relationships, whether they are consensual or extramarital in nature. Men always misunderstand the extent of consent. They think that if a woman says “yes” to intercourse once, they can’t say “no,” and they have to tend to everything that the man wants. They think that money can buy consent and respect. And when they find out that that’s not the case at all, the shock is too hard for them to handle. Hence, they resort to violence.
I don’t know what the show is trying to say through its portrayal of women because, with the exception of Constable Sindhu, the female characters are dead, pregnant, abused, or cooking food. There’s some attempt to show that policemen shouldn’t get into a relationship because they are physically and emotionally unavailable most of the time. They can’t divide their time between their job and their personal life. So, they should choose. But then the show doesn’t do anything with that. The women do get a lot of screen time. However, it’s primarily to show that they don’t have any agency. For a moment, it does feel like Lathika is going to choose self-preservation over helping people who have no respect for her. Even that doesn’t happen. At the very least, Constable Sindhu could’ve been used to cut through the testosterone fueled investigation. Why is her reach limited to the police station? Is the show being self-aware that female officers aren’t allowed to go for investigations? I don’t know.
To be fair, these are all good points that are brought up by Khabeer and his team. But the show dedicates a few lines to these themes and then returns to the police work. It’s pretty clear that by humanizing the aforementioned members of the police, Khabeer wants to portray them in a sympathetic light. There’s nothing wrong with that, except when you look at all the atrocities like custodial death, brutality, and extrajudicial killings that are carried out in the name of the law, you won’t look at these khaki-wearing “heroes” in the same way. Anyway, after spending 99 percent of the show’s running time going in circles, Manoj finds out from Shiju’s brother that Shiju is in love with a woman called Sisily and that he’s unafraid to run away from the scene of the crime.
‘Kerala Crime Files’ Ending Explained: How Did S.I. Manoj Catch Shiju?
Earlier in the series, Vinu realized that Shiju had come to the police station to register his name and address along with a bus full of people who were witnesses to a case of chain snatching. But after learning about Shiju and Sisiliy’s relationship, Manoj figured out that she must’ve been there at the police station on that day with him. So, he tells Constable Sindhu to send Sisily’s address to him. When the team gets there, they realize that it’s Jacob’s place. Jacob is a marketing professional who was considered a suspect because he had made a phone call to Shiju. But since he couldn’t remember if Shiju had a squinted eye or not, he was crossed off the list.
However, this newfound information about Sisily brought the police back to Jacob’s doorstep, and they found out that Jacob’s wife was Sisily, and she was having an affair with Shiju. She reveals that Shiju promised to take her away after he got a permanent job at a canteen in Angamaly. She doesn’t recall which canteen he was talking about. Therefore, Manoj and his team comb through Angamaly and zero in on a Police Canteen. That’s where they find Shiju. They question him, and he basically admits to murdering Swapna because she compared herself to Sisily. This was a great opportunity to dive into the psyche of Shiju. But the show doesn’t. I mean, they spend more time interrogating the innocent union worker Shiju than they do when it comes to the actual perpetrator! That’s so illogical. Is the show trying to say that there’s no point in trying to understand killers like Shiju because they are rotten and they should be jailed and not studied? Then why does it waste so much time building up to the reveal of his face? It even gets dangerously close to mythologizing Shiju while portraying Swapna as an irritating figure. And the way it cuts away from crime recreation sequence, there’s a good chance that people are going to walk away with a problematic sentiment.
At the end of Kerala Crime Files, all the officers get a pat on their respective backs, and the show says that this is what the life of a police officer is like. And? So what? It’s your job. It’s the job you’ve chosen. This is what you’ve signed up for. Why do you need to congratulate yourself for that? What’s with this superiority complex? After all the criticisms, all of which are valid, that have been leveled against the police system, the only kind of stories about this particular profession that should be coming out are the ones that dare to introspect. Everything else feels like a recruitment video to get more unhinged individuals into the police force.
Credit where credit is due, Kerala Crime Files is technically sound. It has some of the best editing I’ve seen in an Indian show. The cinematography is excellent. The way the camera moves and how it isolates the characters within the frames are impressive. Nowadays, shows aren’t color graded properly. That’s not the case here. It has a well-thought-out aesthetic that it sticks to throughout its six episodes. The production design, costume design (sweat stains are so underappreciated even though they add so much to the storytelling), sound design, and songs are quite excellent. The performances of the entire cast of Kerala Crime Files are top-notch. The women in the show deserved better. But they make do with what they are given. However, the show’s storytelling and its tendency to glorify police work instead of underscoring its relevant themes about sex work, abuse, and misogyny are what make this such a tedious watch. I don’t think you should waste your time on it because there are way better copaganda movies and shows out there. By the way, Ahammed Khabeer has already announced that he’s planning to make another season of Kerala Crime Files. So, the people over at Disney+ Hotstar have clearly liked it enough to give it a second season. Now, it’s up to you if you want to watch it or not.