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Pada: this hostage drama is Ranjan's recommendation for the week.

Ten years after debuting with his impressive I.D. (2012, Hindi), Kamal KM, an FTII alumnus from the late 90s comes out with his second feature film that hits us at the solar plexus just as it did with his first feature. This time Kamal works with an ensemble cast that has some of the biggest names of the Malayalam film industry. Inspired by a true account that happened in 1996 when a group of tribal welfare activists held a collector hostage at his office to demand the repeal of a controversial bill that allowed the government to grab tribal lands, the film moves beyond its immediate context to make a scathing comment on present-day India and the sinister ways the different arms of the government move to suppress human rights and throttle genuine efforts by a section of well-intentioned bureaucrats and legal authorities. The film boasts of some remarkable mise-en-scenes, especially blocking of characters in groups moving around constantly while strictly maintaining the continuity of background action. Mention must also be made of Shaan Mohammad who keeps the action going at a steady pace by cross-cutting between parallel actions, accentuating the dramatic tension.

PADA (2022, Malayalam) is a unique combination of cinematic achievement of the highest order and biting social commentary. If you have still not seen it, you better look it up on Amazon Prime Video.

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