Starring Nayanthara, Atharvaa, Anurag Kashyap
Rating: ** (2 stars)
In how many ways will Anurag Kashyap grimace to try and scare us? In Akira, he took on Sonakshi Sinha and lived to regret it. So did we. Here it is Tamil Nadu’s only female hero Nayanthara whose entry into the frames drives audiences wild the way Hema Malini used to in her heydays.
But hey, I am digressing. Nayanthara’s new release Imaikkaa Nodigal does a lot of that. It starts off as a taut and rather unoriginal film about a serial killer on the prowl in Bengaluru, and a young beautiful talented smart chic and savvy new CBI recruit (we all know who that is) who challenge each other each other in a way we’ve seen cops and killers challenge one another since Clint Eastwood’s Play Misty For Me 40 years ago.
Kashyap playing Rudra doesn’t play ‘Misty’. But he is constantly shown to be one-up on the law, as though being sadistic qualifies him to be smart. Kashyap’s Rudra is constantly singing and chuckling and getting his rockers off watching his victims whine, moan, plead and bleed.
He doesn’t shock you. Firstly, because it’s not his voice speaking those rapid-fire repartees on retribution. Secondly, the victims are shown to be so pale they leave no impression whether dead or alive.
If this beast of a man is enjoying his murders we don’t feel any of his pleasure. We only see a non-actor hamming his way through a role that required the towering menace of Prakash Raj.
Nayanthara as the CBI recruit is surprisingly repressed and ineffective. She has a tailormade role of a single parent fighting gender prejudice at her workplace and coping with the guffawing gruesomeness of an incorrigible attention-seeker. No, not her demanding daughter. The killer on the prowl.
All these subtexts, let me hasten to add, are not discernible on screen. Writer-director R Ajay Gnamunthu is dead serious about slaying the serial killer’s beast intentions with a vinegary violence that resonates across the narrative like the thundering hooves of a hobbling horse that has seen better days.
The jaded screenplay gets a helping hand from the film-editor whose edgy scissors cuts far deeper than the wounds that the arch villain inflicts. Somehow Rudra’s menace gets diluted and braked by the unwanted digressions. When Anjali’s brother Arjun (Atharvaa) first shows up to court and romance Rashi Khanna, I thought I was watching another film… a kind of 2-in-1 offer, perhaps, in the era of recession?
But no. Arjun’s romancing singing dancing and nostril-flaring are all part of the narrative’s deadly deal to stymie our better judgment with tons of simulated sleekness. Somehow it doesn’t work. After a point, the cat and mouse between Kashyap and Nayanthara begins to wear thin.
Everybody knows how this is going to end. The louder Kashyap’s mocking laughter, the more we know that this is a film trying hard to hide it vacuousness under the rubble of sleekness and a pseudo-sadism that seems laughably puny in today’s day and age. If watching a sadistic killer derive pleasure in his victims’ pain is your scene then watch Matt Dillon in Lars von Tiers’ The House That Jack Built. Dillon will disgust you. Kashyap is too artificial to even amuse.