“Imaikkaa Nodigal”… A generic, barely watchable serial-killer thriller that squanders a great premise

Posted on September 20, 2018

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Spoilers ahead…

After an utterly generic (and quite terrible) first half, I practically gave up on R Ajay Gnanamuthu’s Imaikkaa Nodigal. The story has Anjali (Nayanthara, as a CBI officer who sports a Bulgari watch) on the trail of a serial killer who calls himself Rudra (Anurag Kashyap, unleashing his inner ham, as though imagining the slow tortures he wants to inflict on people who keep wanting him to cut scenes from his films). Could Rudra have something to do with one of Anjali’s older cases? It’s hard to care. Rudra’s OTT-ness is close to unwatchable. (Kashyap gets the lip sync right though.) The love track between Arjun (Atharvaa) and Krithika (Raashi Khanna) is  awful. (It features the Vodafone ZooZoos.) There’s not an iota of personality in the filmmaking. If I bring up Mindhunter, someone will protest that we don’t have the budget, the resources, blah, blah — but this isn’t about money. It’s about mood and atmosphere and staging. A shooting at the ticket counter of a theatre complex is unintentionally hilarious. I’ve seen school plays with better reaction shots.

But post-interval, the film picks up… a bit. The annoyances are still there — a kid who won’t shut up (and there are people who’ve told me they love her), unconvincing motivations, a score (by Hiphop Tamizha) that drowns out dialogue, a bladder-testing run time (some 170 minutes). But at least, we finally see the big idea. We see that the film isn’t a serial-killer thriller at all, but really a revenge saga. What a cunning twist on the vigilante-hero film that’s a staple of our cinema! But it remains an idea, on paper — on screen, it becomes the equivalent of the boy who keeps raising his hand in class only to find the teacher won’t look in his direction. The only stretch I enjoyed was the one with guest star Vijay Sethupathi, who infuses much-needed lightness into this self-important film. In his company, Nayanthara lightens up, too. How I wish this good, old-fashioned star power had been hived off into a movie of its own.

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Posted in: Cinema: Tamil