At a time when Malayalam cinema is witnessing experiments of all hues and kinds, here comes a movie which has novelty written all over it. ' Escape from Uganda' , is a thriller set in the exotic African country Uganda, which is notorious for its crimes, poverty and lawlessness. Rajesh Nair's film is a daring experiment and considering the odds that were stacked up against it,Escape from Uganda almost passes the muster.
Shikha(Rima) and Jayakrishnan(Vijay Babu) elope to Uganda after marrying against the wishes of their parents. In a strange land and unfavourable and hostile circumstances the couple finds living extremely cumbersome to start with. Uganda is notorious for lawlessness and the nation's streets are full of thugs and criminals who go to any extent to ensure that it is a free for all. Advocate Firoz(Mukesh) and Gautham(Jojo) who are two Malayalees who have successfully settled there, help the couple to find means and ways to start their life in Uganda.Shikha has a Malayali friend named Angel who is into fashion and modelling business who is leading a successful career in this dark nation,and it is at her behest that the couple decides to head for Uganda.
Shikha and Jayakrishnan establish themselves in their lives with their industriousness.The boutique cum fashion store that Shikha begins becomes a success and life becomes a stroll in the park for the happy couple who are blessed with a baby girl.But Uganda is too mysterious and dangerous a place that one never knows what the next moment has in store.Shikha's friendship with Angel lands her in deep trouble as certain unseemly developments occur which lead to the murder of Angel and her companion, who happens to be the daughter of the powerful mayor of Kampala,the capital city of Uganda.Shikha is falsely implicated in the twin murder and a conspiracy is hatched to keep her behind the bars forever.A devastated Jayakrishnan runs from pillar to post to somehow rescue his wife.But the legal wrangle is too complicated and despite the earnest efforts of Adv.Feroz,Shikha is denied justice.The murder seems to be the tip of an iceberg which runs deep and it shows the systemic problems of Ugandan society where criminality rules roost.
When all seems lost a strange character named Antony played by Tamil actor Parthiban makes an entry.He is quirky to the hilt and his mannerisms and antics give the impression that there is more to him than meets the eye.He promises Jayakrishnan to help Shikha escape from prison.Though hesitant at first he falls for Antony's designs as he finds himself cornered further by the murder of Adv.Firoz who was his sole source of hope.The elaborately laid out plan of the scheming Antony is implemented as we see a nerve racking finale.What are the motives of Antony and whether the couple indeed manage to escape from Uganda with their kid constitute the movie.
The movie maintains a frenetic pace in the second half after a rather indifferently paced first half.The characters aren't elaborately etched and in a thriller like this the focus expectedly is on the narrative.The script by Sandeep Robinson,Deepak Prabhakaran and Nithin Bhadran has loose ends and the way the jail break is conceived is not entirely convincing.The plot becomes somewhat hazy towards the latter half as the quest for perfection and too many twists leads to certain avoidable pitfalls.The suspense quotient which is kept intact till the end is not jaw dropping.But the director has succeeded in giving a real feel of the Ugandan life and Vishnu Sharma's camera captures the cities,hamlets and dark alleys of Uganda with real panache.The scenes inside the high security prison are competently picturized and it is one of the highlights of the movie.Run Ravi's stunts add real life to the movie and the BGM by Gopi Sundar is notable which gives a real African flavour to the movie.Songs don't hold much relevance.
Rima Kallingal is very good as the incarcerated and tortured Shikha and her performance is nuanced and multilayered.Vijay Babu has not let himself down as her husband who is constantly on the run.Mukesh makes a cameo appearance in his inimitable style.Parthibhan,one felt was a bit over the board as Antony,while Jojo evokes a few giggles as the trustworthy aide of the couple.The African actors have all put in commendable performances.The little girl who enacts the role of the daughter of the lead couple is cute and capable. 'Escape from Uganda', may not be the best ever thriller in recent times,but it does have its moments.And it is unlikely that viewers will look for escape routes before the movie is done with.