STORY: An out-of-form fiction writer and his wife encounter a slew of horrific incidents when they visit a hill station.
REVIEW: Jeevan (Kalaiyarasan), who once was a successful fiction writer, is not in form anymore. He is quite distressed about the fact that his publisher, of late, has been rejecting his ideas. He finds solace in cigarette packs, and his wife Jennie (Sai Dhanshika) is worried over his situation and their future as a couple. One fine day, an idea strikes him — that of a bad guy who eventually becomes a hero. Jeevan pitches the idea to his publisher, and the latter asks him to develop the plot.
Jennie, who has been urging Jeevan to give up writing for their sake, pleads with him to wait for just two months to complete the story. An excited Jeevan promises her that he would bid adieu to writing and take up a white-collar job if nothing materialises in two months’ time. He decides to go to Meghamalai as he believes its calm ambience will be very crucial in bringing out his creativity. He sets out to the hill station where he has arranged a stay at his friend’s guest house. A forest guard (Mime Gopi), too, is there to help him. But little does Jeevan know that he is taking a big risk with his decision. He encounters a series of horrific events, following which he finds it difficult to differentiate between real and imaginary incidents. Things turn topsy-turvy when Jennie pays a surprise visit to the hill station.
While Kalaiyarasan puts up a decent show, it is Dhanshika who carries the film on her shoulders, especially during the crucial part of the film. The former, as an upset writer, manages to bring in the required stress and emotion to it, while the latter, in the role of a practical and caring wife, once again proves that she is at ease in emotionally-charged scenes and sequences which require her physical effort. Mime Gopi appears in a few scenes and Daniel’s character doesn’t leave much impact. The cinematography by Prasanna Kumar, music by Johan and action scenes stand out in this psychological-horror film, which works to a good extent for movie lovers of this genre.
One of the positives of Uru, which has a few edge-of-the-seat moments, is its doing away with the done-to-death portrayal of ghosts and the clichéd flashback associated with them. Though the film starts as a laid-back attempt, it gets interesting as the story unfolds, with plenty of twists and turns in the last 30 minutes which are enough to keep viewers hooked.
STORY: A pickpocket suffers an accident and learns that he now has alien hand syndrome — with his left hand acting on its own! He gets a job from a gangster to steal the mobile phone of a politician, but his now autonomous left hand gets him into trouble after trouble.
REVIEW: Like the recent Tubelight, Peenchankai is driven by its high-concept premise — what if our hand starts to have a mind of its own! Director Ashok sets his film based on this idea against a background that involves criminals and politicians, and gives us a black comedy that is certainly novel, mostly funny and somewhat overlong.
The film’s protagonist, S Muthu (RS Karthik) is one sly pickpocket. No wonder that his nickname, Smoothu, feels just right. But Smoothi is also a pickpocket with conscience (“Pickpocket adichalum oru nermai venum”). This is also why he chooses to return the handbag that his accomplices have stolen. And he has a pleasant when he discovers that it belongs to Abi (Anjali Rao), who he has a crush on. But when Abi discovers his actual profession, she calls the cops and trying to make a getaway, Smoothu meets with an accident. And that is when his troubles start. For his left hand starts acting on its own! A doctor tells him that his condition is called alien hand syndrome and that a surgery might set things right, somewhat.
And to make money for the surgery, Smoothu accepts an offer from Gaja (Ponmudi), a gangster, who wants him to steal the mobile phone of Nallathambi (Vivek Prasanna), a politician, for Nallathambi’s rival, Uthaman (KSG Venkatesh). But with his peechankai behaving like an altogether different entity, is there any chance that things are going to turn out well?
Peechankai is an expanded version of Ashok’s short film, and there are times when you can see the story being stretched. And after a point, the plot seems to be running in circles with no end in sight. But this is mainly because there is one sub-plot too many. In addition to Smoothu’s romance, we have the enmity between Nallathambi and Uthaman, and also a kidnapping by Gaja’s gang. All these make the film longer than it should be. And some of the humour is just juvenile. The film thinks that people still find rhyming comedy, like substituting underwear for android, and selvi for selfie, funny.
Still, it is to his credit that Ashok manages to tie up the various strands convincingly. And RS Karthik is quite convincing as the hapless Smoothu, and he makes us believe that his left hand has a mind of its own. The characters, too, are eccentric — an overweight underling who keeps powdering himself, an apprentice underling, a gangster boss who fears his wife, a politician who loves watch videos of his sexcapades, and so on. The laughs, too, never dry up. Even when they are corny, they bring a smile on our face.
STORY: Two small-time smugglers try to steal a highly valuable emerald artefact, which is believed to be cursed. To safeguard themselves from the evil spirit to whom the relic belongs, they seek the help of three ghosts!
REVIEW: Just when we were thinking that ghost comedies are turning repetitive and going out of fashion comes Maragatha Nanayam, an entertaining ghost caper that shows that you can still make your film feel fresh and keep the laughs coming with some inventive strokes. Debutant ARK Saravanan’s script, which jumps between fantasy, heist, comedy, action, adventure, and even a bit of romance, demands kitchen-sink filmmaking, and he is up to the challenge.
The plot revolves around cash-strapped Senguttuvan (Adhi), a small-time smuggler, who, along with his co-smuggler Ilango (Daniel Pope), agrees to stealing the titular Maragadha Nanayam, a historical artefact belonging to the king of Irumporai, whose ghost, it is believed, is said to kill anyone who lays his hand on it. And on the advice of a swami, they seek the spirit of Ilango’s uncle, Chidambaram, to guide them. Circumstances result in Chidambaram’s spirit entering the (dead) body of their boss Nochikuppam Ramadas (Ramadoss). And Chidambaram calls upon the spirits of three of his dead friends — Mahendran (Nikki Galrani), Nesamani (Arunraja Kamaraj) and Tamil Ayya (Sangili Murugan). The four are among the 132 victims of the Irumporai King. Meanwhile, Twinkle Ramanathan (Anandraj), a gangster, too, gets into the mix!
Maragatha Nanayam does take some time to set up its characters and initially, the changes its tone are jarring, but once the plot kicks in, the film starts to entertain, handsomely. Director Saravanan also convinces us that he knows what he is doing and makes us understand that the jumps between genres are very much intentional. Even the small dose of romance between Senguttuvan and Chanakya (Nikki Galrani), which we get in the beginning and makes us apprehensive, gets a unique, comic twist.
That said, the quirkiness sometimes feels forced and even repetitive, like the moments featuring the Twinkle Ramanathan’s goofy underlings. The narration could have also been tighter, as many a scene goes far too long despite making its comic points. This is also why the thrill of a heist/adventure feels amiss, despite the presence of a chase scene involving a monster truck that feels like a nod to Spielberg’s Duel.
But these shortfalls do not rob the amusing quality of the film. For Saravanan’s supporting cast (the lead actors are more or less functional) turns in excellent performances that ensure that we are always amused.
STORY: The life of three youngsters, who go to Rangoon to strike a business deal, witnesses several twists and turns, for which they pay heavy price.
REVIEW: Few minutes into Rangoon, we are taken to the life of people in the biggest city of Myanmar (formerly Burma) in 1988, where the protagonist Venkat’s (Gautham Karthik) childhood is established. The reason for his family to move to Madras is convincingly told, and the audience can’t be blamed if they remember KV Anand’s Anegan. The visuals of the city are beautifully captured by Anish Tharun Kumar, making viewers wanting the entire story to unfold there. But, fate takes Venkat, his sister and mother to north Madras, where his father secured a job recently. Though little hesitant initially, he befriends with Kumaran on the first day, as the city Madras, its culture and people are completely new to him.
His father passes away after a while, and Venkat, as he grew up, becomes an irresponsible guy, who likes to spend time carelessly with his friends Kumaran and Tip Top (Daniel). Kumaran recommends Venkat to Gunaseela (Siddique) for a job in the latter’s jewellery shop. Guna, who is into smuggling illegal goods, get impressed by Venkat’s enthusiasm, and assigns him more jobs. Guna’s trust in Venkat increases when the latter saves him from getting killed by business opponents.
Meanwhile, Venkat falls for Natasha (Sana), an aspirant singer, who resides in his locality. She, too, starts liking him after getting to know about his righteousness and his growing standard of living. When Venkat and friends decide to bid adieu to their association with Gunaseelan, he gets another assignment from him, where he is asked to get money from Burma, in exchange of huge amount of gold. The newly-appointed investigative officer Syed Nawazuddin (Anand) hatches plan to nab them, but Venkat and friends reach Rangoon in a clever way without falling prey to the traps laid by cops. When everything went fine and they were about to return from Rangoon with the money, they get the shock of their life – the money bag goes missing. Though unable to face Gunaseelan, they manage courage and narrate him what has happened. A peeved Guna gives them two days to arrange money, and the trio resorts to kidnapping to earn huge money in such a short time. Their planning misfires, because of which they pay the price in the form of a life.
Venkat is now worried about returning Gunaseelan’s money, concerned about his lady love, his sister and mother’s lives and the friend whom he had to sacrifice during the course of things. He gets to know a few shocking facts about the unanticipated link between some people which makes the situation worse. He then takes on his opponents for his own survival.
Gautham Karthik, as Venkat, who undergoes varied emotions, has put his soul into the character. The film is a welcome relief to him after the debacle of Muthuramalingam. Siddique excels as Gunaseelan, the multi-faceted and selfish businessman. Sana as Venkat’s lover was decent, though the romantic portions didn’t contribute much to the story. What makes Rangoon an impressive film is its casting, interesting screenplay with twists and turns at the right time, the performances and the flawless technicalities.
Vishal Chandrasekhar’s background score stands out and Vikram’s songs deserve mention. The fight sequences choreographed by Anbariv are partly realistic, yet quite engaging enough to keep the viewers hooked.
STORY: The death of a gang lord triggers a war between two rival gangs, and an ambitious hireling tries to figure out his place in the scheme of things.
REVIEW: Guna (Vikram Prabhu), the protagonist of SR Prabhakaran’s Sathiriyan, has only one ambition — he wants to rule the city (Trichy) he lives in. And he thinks being the boss of a group of gangsters will help him lord over the city. But he is prepared to wait for his time, even when his boss, Samuthiram (Sharath Lohitashwa), the most feared gangster in Trichy, is murdered by his rival Manapparai Sankar (Aruldoss). He lets Ravi (Vijai Murugan), Samuthiram’s right hand man, take over, and stays loyal to him.
This quality of Guna is one of the refreshing elements in Sathiriyan, which starts off as a fairly involving gangster drama, but goes off the rails when Prabhakaran desperately tries to turn his wannabe Velu Naicker into Valmiki. He does sow the seeds for such a resolution quite well, through Samuthiram’s daughter, Niranjana (Manjima), who starts wooing Guna. He resists at first, but when she shows him the error of his ways, he begins to fall for her, and starts thinking of a life of peace and quiet.
However, his bloody past cannot leave him soon. For, Sankar wants to establish his grip over the city by eliminating Samuthiram’s men, especially Guna, who he believes to be the real threat. And Ravi, too, begins to nurse a grudge against him for romancing their late boss’ daughter.
After the lackluster Idhu Kathirvelan Kadhal, SR Prabhakaran lives up to some of the promise that we saw in his debut Sundarapandian with Sathiriyan. Aided by his cinematographer Sivakumar Vijayan, whose searing visuals superbly capture the intensity of the drama between the characters, and composer Yuvan Shankar Raja, whose piercing theme heightens the tension, he keeps things interesting and unpredictable for about two-thirds of the film. The actors are up to the task as well. Vikram Prabhu has a coiled intensity about him, and that fits Guna’s tough-guy character pretty well. Manjima, with her girl-next-door look, feels apt while Vijai Murugan and Aruldoss are plausible as rival gangsters trying to hold their place.
But somehow, Prabhakaran doesn’t get the pacing right. The film feels too long and there are times when we wish he rushed things up, especially the romantic track, which, despite being integral to the plot, begins to drag after a point. We even get a sub-plot involving Chandran, a medical student who saves Guna, and his girlfriend that goes nowhere. And the director ruins it all in the third act, which is muddled, verbose and terribly preachy.