Very rarely do you get to see a movie that's not just logical and has good performances, but comes with a deliciously intriguing thriller whodunit tag as well. And that's exactly what you get in Big Picture's maiden Tamil venture Yaavarum Nalam (Everyone's okay), directed by debutant Vikram K Kumar, and starring R Madhavan and in an intriguigingly spooky package as well.
Hard-earned experience has taught the average Tamil movie-goer that thrillers and whodunits aren't really the forte of our film-makers; the instinct to stuff the screenplay with unwanted songs, comedy tracks and half-baked non-logic is too much, and it's often the film's undoing. Vikram Kumar, however, has proven that new or not, he's certainly got the goods.
As all good thrillers do, this one too begins with a happy family: Manohar (R Madhavan) and Manoj (Hari Nair) are loyal affectionate brothers, each married. Manoj has two children (Abhijith and Supriyaa). Manohar's charming, salwar-clad, make-up wearing wife is Priya (Neethu Chandra, debuting in Tamil), while the brothers' mother (Saranya) loves watching serials on her cable TV.
Much laughter and camaraderie ensue as the family fits in, and little things like the milk curdling when Manohar wants tea, or the lift not working when he wants to get into it don't really matter. Added to the mix are a blind neighbour and his dog as well (Dhritiman Chatterjee) -- who appear at suitably blood-curdling moments. And then there's Manohar's friend the sub-Inspector Shiva (Ravi Babu) and Dr Balu (Sachin Khedeker) who pull the story along.
Matters get more complicated when a new TV serial appears every afternoon at exactly 13.00 hours on Eye TV, and bizarre events start a roller-coaster ride that somehow end up influencing real life. Only Manohar, somehow, seems to be aware of them. Tied up into it all this is a 30-year old murder mystery -- a chilling incident that still has after-effects.
You have to hand it to the director Vikram K Kumar -- these are the real thrills, the spook-specials that you yearn to see on the screen, but somehow never do. Instead of relying on blood, gore and white-sari ghosts, he's drummed up effectively spine-chilling horror, a la Hollywood, but which is still new here. The charm is that he's added enough Tamil elements to it and dialogues, courtesy Neelu Ayyappan to make the transition without jarring you. Wonder of wonders, he's actually tied up loose ends!
It's the story that's king here and even the players themselves fall into the secondary category. Madhavan is his usual suave best, excelling when he's confronted with a strange set of incidents he cannot explain. But it's Ravi Babu who sometimes takes the cake as the puzzled SI. The rest just fit in seamlessly; Saranya and Neethu Chandra look like they're having fun, even if their roles are minor.
Tubbi-Parik have gone to town over the back ground score which is neither too quiet, nor too loud and hits exactly the right note. Sreekar Prasad's editing keeps up the ail-biting tone that's a must for this genre, while art-director Chetan Pathak has brought a posh, yet middle class apartment to life. Shankar Ehsaan Loy's music, thankfully, is restricted to one crowd-pleaser during the movie and the hit song relegated to the titles.
If the director is the king, then cinematographer P C Sreeram is undoubtedly the prince of the proceedings. His camera captures perfectly every troubled, nuance, showcasing old and new distinctly, and takes on a life of its own.
For true-blue mystery and spook-lovers, here's the movie you've been waiting for, complete with heart-thudding thrills that's actually logical. A must-watch.