The growth of Siddique’s character appears to be the only effort made in Corona Papers to preserve an air of unpredictability. The outcome, however, falls short of providing a gratifying payout. Although there were good intentions to keep the audience on their toes, the execution fell flat and didn’t lead to a satisfying conclusion. The story of the movie falls short of providing a truly fulfilling experience for spectators and fails to successfully engage them.
Corona Papers is inspired by Sri Ganesh’s “8 Thottakal,” a Tamil movie. The movie examines the issue of crimes perpetrated during the pandemic era. Rahul Nambiar, a rookie sub-inspector, is the main character of the novel. After his gun is stolen off a bus, he and his superiors have to keep it under wraps until the perpetrator is caught. But the stolen weapon rapidly changes hands and is used in two separate crimes—a murder and a bank robbery—which makes things more difficult for both the criminals and the police. The pistol plays an important role in connecting the pasts of each character as well as determining their futures as the story progresses. Rahul, who is already on administrative leave after losing his service revolver, is involved in a high-stakes, life-and-death scenario. The movie digs into the complex web of events, revealing the results of the individuals’ deeds and the tenacious quest for justice.
Filmmaker Priyadharshan draws inspiration from Akira Kurosawa’s compelling suspense thriller “Stray Dog,” released in 1949, to present a police drama set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Priyadharshan’s film makes an attempt to investigate the socio-economic difficulties of the epidemic era, in contrast to Kurosawa’s masterwork, which dives into the dismal socioeconomic circumstances of post-war Japan. The majority of the movie takes place during a relatively “normal” time period, despite the fact that it includes components like masks, PPE kits, and sanitization sprays. This method makes one wonder to what extent the pandemic’s socioeconomic effects are accurately depicted. Viewers may start to doubt the film’s capacity to convey the subtleties of the pandemic-induced societal shifts as the story develops and explores the breadth of the exploration. However, Priyadharshan’s police drama aims to be suspenseful and mysterious, evoking the grim tone set by Kurosawa’s seminal work.
It is strange that while the Malayalam film industry being at the very forefront of adjusting to the issues given by the pandemic in 2020–2021, integrating COVID–19 into their narratives, themes, and storytelling decisions, there appears to be a disappointing turn in the movie “Corona Papers.” When we consider the industry’s trailblazing initiatives, such as the film “C U Soon” in 2020, which became the first Indian movie to be totally created, scripted, and shot in the middle of the ongoing COVID-19 problem, the irony becomes very clear. Only a few months after the original lockdown measures were implemented, “C U Soon” succeeded to capture the spirit of the moment.
In Corona Papers, Priyadarshan’s method comprises giving each character a surplus of time and frequently diverting from the primary plot. Unfortunately, this leads to a lack of character development, which makes it challenging for the audience to identify with or get invested in the characters’ experiences.
Rahul Nambiar, an aspiring police officer who originally appears as the movie’s protagonist and drives the story for the first 30 minutes, serves as a prime example of this. But then the plot’s course unexpectedly changes, and Siddique’s persona assumes the lead. If Rahul were given more emphasis during the sections of the story that are narrated from the perspective of the police officers, this abrupt change in focus might be excused. But the next time we see Rahul, Sandhya Shetty’s portrayal of a female police officer steals the show and Rahul is reduced to a supporting role.
As the film fails to establish a solid and satisfactory character arc for Rahul and other supporting characters, the erratic handling of characters and shifting focus might be confusing for viewers. The audience is left yearning for more substantive growth and consistency in the narrative, undermining the opportunity for deeper inquiry and involvement with their stories.
The 155-minute-long film, Corona Papers, is plagued by constant digressions, which is its fundamental issue. The script and its characters seem to be lost in a state of uncertainty. It lacks the necessary suspense and intrigue to qualify as a compelling crime thriller, and it also lacks the depth to be considered a captivating crime drama. Moreover, the ending twist leaves much to be desired and is best left undiscussed.