Sukumara Kurup, accused of murder, identity theft and insurance fraud in Kerala in the 1980s but never arrested, has exercised enough of a hold on the imagination to inspire countless theories and at least three Malayalam movies. The latest, Kurup, stars Dulquer Salmaan as a fashion-forward escape artist and criminal mastermind.

The two previous movies about Sukumara Kurup have scripted their own conclusions to his open case file. In NH-47 (1984), Kurup is attacked by a mob before the police can arrest him. In Pinneyum (2016), Kurup undergoes plastic surgery but then kills himself out of guilt and remorse.

The latest outing, directed by Srinath Rajendran, based on a story by Jithin Jose and written by KS Arvind and Daniell Sayooj Nair, has the most fanciful proposition of them all. It belongs to a comic book rather than a supposedly serious chronicle. Coming towards the end of 165 minutes, this latest theory is delivered with maximum speed and minimum conviction, as though the makers know that it makes no sense.

The handsomely produced and slickly narrated thriller maintains some curiosity about Kurup’s real self before abandoning the pursuit. It’s suggested that Kurup, also known as Gopikrishnan, started out young. In the hope that military discipline will straighten out his crookedness,…

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