CBI 5 review: Mammootty retains Sethurama Iyer’s traits, but can’t save film

The script is a big letdown, hardly managing to keep your interest even as it revolves around a murder mystery.

Nostalgia for the beloved CBI movie series, if you have any, is likely to end with the opening credits of the fifth and latest in the series – CBI 5: The Brain. The joy of once again hearing the cherished theme music and snippets of famous lines from the earlier movies sprinkled across the titles puts you in a different mood, eager and expectant. But what follows is somewhat of a kick in the teeth. Even Mammootty, reprising the adored role of Sethurama Iyer, that invincible sleuth who never fails, can do little to save the film.

It is sad to write this about a series that began so very charmingly towards the end of the 80s, made by director K Madhu and scripted by SN Swamy. The duo produced three more in the intervening years before CBI 5. While the first two remain the most popular in the series, the third and the fourth – coming in early 2000s – were welcomed spiritedly by admirers of the detective who walked to the catchy theme music with his hands held in a knot behind him, uttering Malayalam and English with a touch of Tamil, scratching his head to connect the dots and flashing a winning smile.

Mammootty retains all of that in CBI 5, the traits that made Sethurama Iyer appealing to so many. But the script, by the same man who wrote the other movies in the series, lacks the quality of its predecessors. The crime revolves around a series of murders that begins with the death of a state minister on a plane, and for some reason called the Basket Killings. Renji Panicker, Ramesh Pisharody, Ansiba and Alexander Prasanth play other CBI officials who take part in the investigation with Sethurama Iyer.

Watch: Trailer of the film

Iyer’s usual sidekicks – Vikram and Chacko – have been reduced to smaller roles. Jagathy Sreekumar, the veteran actor who played Vikram, has been unwell following a serious accident in 2012. Mukesh, who played Chacko, has turned to politics. However, in credit to the script, Jagathy’s short scene is impactful and full of feeling. Sai Kumar, who plays a corrupt police officer in part 3, and was seen as the son of the antagonist cop (played by the late Sukumaran) in the earlier movies, also reprises his role. He still continues to imitate Sukumaran in his mannerism and speech, a needless affectation by an otherwise wonderful actor, which makes the character look a bit of a clown.

Read: ‘Oru CBI Diary Kurippu’: Why Mammootty’s detective film is unsurpassed

However, it is the writing that is a bigger letdown. The investigation or the mystery barely manages to keep your interest, even when the script has stuck to the formula – jump from one suspect to another, find new witnesses, dig more, all to raise your curiosity. But your curiosity rises only to wonder when the ordeal will end.

Jarring music, dialogues rich with melodrama, long and tedious sequences that bring out the worst in good actors reduce the film to hardly an endurable watch. Perhaps with some very generous editing to chop off about three fourths of an hour and most of the background score – while retaining the theme music for a few occasions – the film might have worked a lot better.

It could also be that the team was trying to change with the changing times, bringing in technology to solve the crime, but it clearly didn’t help.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.



Leave a Comment