Here’s Why You Should Watch Kerala Crime Files

“Kerala Crime Files: Shiju, Parayil Veedu, Neendakara” is a 6-episode web series that was released on Disney+ Hotstar this month. Directed by Ahmed Kabeer and written by Ashiq Aimar, it is a crime thriller and follows the mysterious death of a sex worker in Kochi. Starring Aju Varghese and Lal in the main roles, each episode runs for around 20-30 minutes.

As Sharath, a young manager of a rundown lodge called ‘Grand Tourist Home’ in Kochi city, finds a woman’s body in one of the lodge’s bathrooms, a police case is filed, and the mysterious case of finding the murderer begins. Sub-Inspector Manjor (Aju Varghese) leads the case with a team of five policemen, with one piece of evidence in hand– an address named ‘Shiju, Parayil Veedu, Neendakara.’

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Here's Why You Should Watch Kerala Crime Files

What makes Kerala Crime Files different from the usual thriller genres is that, more often than not, it humanizes itself through many elements. While the case goes on, each episode makes sure that it comes back to the lives of these policemen and humanizes them through the portrayal of their homes, their wives, and their children. They are not made to wear superhero capes and are portrayed as normal human beings. Multiple mentions are made about the newly married Manoj and how this unexpected murder case will make it difficult for him to make time for his marriage. Visuals are not only of the police station, the crime scene, and any location related to the case but also of these policeman’s homes, the hospitals in which their wives undergo delivery, etc. Although it cannot be described as a “realistic” element, it can be said that the series attempts to cover more aspects of the lives of the policemen than just the case of the murdered sex worker.

Here's Why You Should Watch Kerala Crime Files

The series has many instances of humor, which lets you take a break from the cat-and-mouse murder case the policemen are caught in. Another noticeable element in the series is the attempt to embed socially conscious scenes through the lens of gender and caste. Throughout the series, many characters make derogatory comments on the case, implying the insignificant light in which the case must be treated, owing to the social location of Swapna, the sex worker. The way Manoj responds by treating the case as equally important as his other cases is a subtle way to get back at the casteist and misogynistic portrayal and treatment of sex workers in India.

Here's Why You Should Watch Kerala Crime Files

As we have discussed, a lot of light is given to the lives of the policemen. In these few visuals of their homes and their married lives, the portrayal of their wives is also an important factor in understanding the gender politics that is conveyed through the series. Manoj’s wife is a student and is seen studying very hard. Sunil’s (Navas Vallikunnu) pregnant wife also makes important conscious and gendered statements on how Sunil, who is incapable of even “boiling water”, cannot help her through her delivery. Another important aspect is Sunil’s inter-caste marriage which is looked down upon by SCPO Pradeep (Zhinz Shan) and is refuted immediately by CPO Vinu (Sanju Sanichen), implying that if they were happy, what society had to say did not matter.

Aju Varghese as a protagonist, is definitely refreshing to watch in a series such as this. All the other actors also delivered a decent performance. While Kerala Crime Files definitely cannot be categorized as a full crime-thriller, the characters’ lighter and gentler treatment makes it an interesting watch and shows us the possibilities of how certain genres can be explored and executed in different ways. Kerala Crime Files is the first official OTT streaming web series to be dubbed in all languages.

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