If Aamir and The Man Who Knew Too Much hooked up in a seedy motel and had a baby, that would be Athithi. Mathiazhagan (Nandha) and Vasuki (Ananya) are a happy couple. At least, they think they’re happy. He’s a project manager with a real-estate firm. Big bucks. Big house. Big car. And then, when his daughter is held hostage, he discovers how small his world really is. Under instructions from a pitiless mystery man (Nikesh Ram), who seems to enjoy toying with them, Mathiazhagan is compelled to cross over to the other side of the tracks. What would it be like if the one per cent traded lives with the ninety nine percent? It’s a solid backbone for a thriller – except that Athithi, after a while, abandons this angle and drifts into a more personal zone. These latter portions aren’t bad – our sympathies shift slowly, and there’s a good scene with a prostitute – though to get there we have to wade through Thambi Ramaiah’s tone-deaf comedy track and a generally underwhelming cast. The bigger problem with Athithi, which is directed by Bharathan, is that the writing is all over the place. You know how desperate a film is when we see a man lurking in the dark, with a knife in his hand and a jangling music score behind, and it turns out he’s bought his wife a birthday cake. I bet I know where she wanted to stick that candle.
An edited version of this piece can be found here. Copyright ©2014 The Hindu. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.