In today’s world, the whole of humanity is governed by the iron hands of technology. Everywhere we go, everything we do, we knowingly or unknowingly leave a digital footprint that can be easily read, by using the right tools. In the 21st century, cyber crimes are on the rise. As people continue updating their private lives on social media, every moment that they share can construe an understanding about their lives which can be utilised by unscrupulous people to their advantage. Writer and director Tharun Moorty, in his feature film debut ‘Operation Java’, keeps cyber crimes as the central premise. However, it’s the human element of the story that makes the film immensely watchable and saves it from only being a bland legal procedural drama. 

The film is essentially three investigations that run one after the other. Cases like film piracy, fraudulent job scams, viral MMS videos, home invasion and murders are investigated by the cyber cell department of the Kochi police. Two in-between-jobs engineering graduates team up with the police to solve these cases. Tracing the digital footprints associated with the crimes along with good old ways of police surveillance is what the team does. The movie also talks about the repercussions of these crimes. A woman, wrongly accused of being involved in a viral morphed video, is shunned by her daughter despite her innocence. A couple gets split due to the temporary nature of the job that the man does. The societal apathy and eventual rebuff towards the people who despite their best efforts, do not get a job. And eventually the inhuman treatment of the temporary employees who never get their actual dues, despite slogging their asses off at work. These are the moments where the film starts soaring and makes every second of the viewing worthwhile. 

All the crimes that are shown in the film are based on real-life incidents. The movie piracy is from the infamous ‘Premam’ movie piracy that happened in 2018. The job scam is inspired from the various fraudulent scam calls that occur throughout the country from different places such as Jamtara. The investigation that follows, without going into the details, keeps it simple so that the process can be understood by the average joe. The humour infused in the scenes are organic in nature such as investigation into director Priyadarshan’s alleged involvement in the ‘Premam’ piracy, to stop the film from earning more than ‘Drishyam’, or for that matter, a bank manager revealing to the cyber cell that he has also lost money by sharing the password to the scam calls! The chase sequences are shot in the narrow lanes of the slum and are terrific to see on the screen. The cast ably supports the screenplay, which incidentally has no big stars. It’s the ensemble that works like perfectly set pieces of an orchestra. Binu Pappu as Joy, ASI of the cyber cell stand out as the sympathetic officer who truly believes in the potential of two young men and their skills of investigation, played by Balu Varghese and Lukman Avaran. The viewer gets to immerse in the process via these two earnest actors and is also able to feel their respective grievances, insecurities and eventual fate. The last scene, which arguably becomes the high point of the film in hindsight, makes the eyes moist. 

Films like ‘Operation Java’ should be watched and celebrated so that more filmmakers can be inspired to make such movies. The film runs for 144 minutes which feels a little stretched. A sharp edit would’ve done wonders to the film. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent watch and again a constant reminder of the fact that the Malayalam film industry at present makes the best film in this country.

‘Operation Java’ now streaming on Zee5 with English subtitles. Rated Universal.

The Cinemawala Rating- 3/5

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