Salute Rating: 3/5
If we were to list out the best cop thrillers in Mollywood, the film Mumbai Police holds one of the highest rankings. When the creators of that masterpiece teamed up again for a cop thriller with Dulquer Salmaan portraying a police officer, the expectations were sky-high. Did the expectations pay off? Sadly, the answer is a no. The film also features Manoj K Jayan, Diana Penty, Alencier, Binu Pappu, Lakshmi Gopalaswami, Saniya Iyappan, Boban Alummoodan, Deepak Parambol, Ganapathi S and others in prominent roles.
Premise of Salute
Salute introduces us to Sub Inspector Arvind Karunakaran (Dulquer Salmaan), who is on a long leave from service after finishing an investigation two and a half years ago. Aravind felt that there was something not right with the way his team and him, consisting of his elder brother DySP Ajith Karunakaran (Manoj K Jayan), SI Hyder Salim (Binu Pappu) and two subordinate officers, had closed the case and presented it to the court. The hunt for the actual facts of the case and the real culprit is what forms the remaining part of Salute.
Rosshan Andrrews is a filmmaker who has proved his mettle with brilliantly crafted films. He has always been able to get his cast to portray the characters beautifully. In fact, the way he frames each of his shots is fantastic.
Sadly, Salute is a film where the Rosshan Andrrews touch is missing. He tries hard to convert the half baked haphazard script into something visually pleasing. But the flaws in the script overpowers his efforts and, thereby, makes Salute a big miss. Certain creative choices such as casting Diana Penty for a very minuscule role, getting extremely talented actors such as Sudheer Karamana, Sai Kumar and Indrans for just a scene’s work, felt like far fetched choice as they couldn’t really make an impact.
Had the film been more intriguing, these cameo appearances would have taken the viewers by surprise. But with what’s in hand, these castings didn’t really surprise me as a viewer. Salute is also a film that put Rosshan Andrrews under tremendous pressure to deliver following the success he has tasted with Mumbai Police. It felt that the pressure to deliver got the better of him.
If there is any aspect of Salute that misfires the most, it has to be the script by Bobby-Sanjay. This scriptwriting duo has always impressed viewers with spectacular stories and scripts. They have also made strong comebacks after disasters, but within a project or two, they go back to square one. After a horrible Casanova, they made it up with Ayalum Njanum Thammil. When School Bus and Kayamkulam Kochunni didn’t work well from a critic’s point of view, they came back with Uyare. After the disastrous One and Mohan Kumar Fans, they made it up with Kaanekkaane. When Kaanekkaane looked like a script that would give them the steady flow, they fell back into the same pit with Salute.
The film had an interesting idea and social commentaries. They delved into a topic (touches of Nayattu) that was pertinent to portray. And as a viewer, we were engaged until the end as we wanted to find the culprit with Dulquer. However, with haphazard stitching up of events, hidden details that never get revealed and a very slow-paced screenplay, the film never picked up. Towards the concluding 30 mins, the film shows some signs of improvement, but with an ending that the writers best know, Salute turns out to be a disappointment.
The script lacked proper character development or depth, due to which we cannot really connect to any of the characters or understand the turmoil they go through. Salute is Bobby-Sanjay’s weakest work in the thriller genre.
Acting Performances in Salute
Salute doesn’t boast of spectacular acting performances. Dulquer Salmaan as Arvind Karunakaran was good, but not the best. He tries his best to make the character convincing, but his charming nature overshadows his acting skills. In certain sequences, his performance felt mediocre and lacked depth. Manoj K Jayan as Ajith Karunakaran was good. He has done a neat job with his role but didn’t really find scope for performance owing to the poor writing.
Diana Penty, Saniya Iyappan and Lakshmi Gopalaswami were best forgotten in their partially fleshed out characters. Alencier and Binu Pappu do well as per the written material. The remaining supporting cast also tried their best to make Salute an interesting watch but didn’t really help much.
Salute has a good visual appeal, thanks to the cinematography by Aslam K Purayil. His brilliant framing helps in capturing some beautiful visuals, especially the night scenes and the high altitude shots and long shots.
Editing by A Sreekar Prasad is decently done. He could have trimmed down the runtime considerably and made Salute less of a drag. The background score by Jakes Bejoy sets the mood and tone for the film perfectly. With most viewers expecting something massy, Jakes sticks to class and intensity to convey the rush of emotions in the scene. However, I personally felt that the film had an excessive usage of background score in each scene for conveying the emotions. It symbolizes the fact that the actors on screen couldn’t really convey it through their acting performances. Barring that, the BGM was well composed and utilized. The production designers, costume designers and art department, too, deserve praise for their contributions.
So, Should You Watch Salute?
As a whole, Salute is a film that tries to shed light on the pressures a police officer goes through while investigating a case. They dance to the tunes of political parties and leaders, which later haunt them and affect them. The film was able to build a good atmosphere. It is clear that the film didn’t follow the tried and tested investigative thriller formula. However, the poorly written script by Bobby-Sanjay, which was a bit of a drag and lacks proper character development, is what makes Salute one of the biggest disappointments I have come across. This one would definitely disappoint you if you are a fan of thriller genres.