Airaa movie review: Nayanthara’s terrific performance holds together this uneven supernatural thriller
Airaa is a supernatural thriller that falls short of the expectations its trailer had raised.
Rating: 2.5 (out of 5 stars)
Airaa is a supernatural thriller that falls short of the expectations its trailer had raised. You cannot really call it a horror film as it is more of an emotional revenge story with Nayanthara in a dual role. The director Sarjun KM is undecided about the genre whether it should be a horror thriller or the emotional travails about a woman who has gone through hell. However, it is Nayanthara’s performance as the dark-skinned Bhavani that holds the uneven narration together.
The director tries too many things at the same time and tries to play it safe as the focus and thrust of the narrative keeps changing. There are two Nayantharas – one a strong, aggressive and stylish Yamuna and the other the dark-skinned and submissive Bhavani shown mostly in black-and-white. The first half is totally dominated by Yamuna, while Bhavani comes as a back story in the second half as the mystery character around which the film revolves.
The film begins in a remote village where a few cops visit a huge haunted bungalow after getting a distress call. Cut to Chennai where Nayanthara (Yamuna) gets a big hero introduction scene where she puts a sexist man whom her parents want her to marry in place. She is fed up of parental pressure to get married and has had enough of her routine life, handling the agony aunt column of a popular daily. She decides to takes a break and goes to a village where her visually impaired grandmother (a terrific Malayalam character artist Kulappuli Leela) lives. Yamuna finds that a lot of bizarre events like black cats monitoring CCTV, creaky doors, rocking chairs and shadowy ghost-like movement around her.
The smart Yamuna senses a business opportunity in the eerie atmosphere around her. She starts making ‘fake horror videos’ along with a local (comedian Yogi Babu) and becomes a Youtube sensation! Meanwhile in Chennai, a guy named Amudhan (Kalaiyarasan) witnesses the mysterious deaths of people — in some way connected to his past — falling from roof tops. At the same time, back in the village things take a strange turn for Yamuna as she is being hunted by some unknown supernatural powers. Her grandmother is attacked by spirits and is hospitalised and her life is in danger. At the interval point, Yamuna and Amudhan’s character intersect and they join hands to find out the back story of Bhavani (Nayanthara), who was Amudhan’s childhood lover, the root cause of their current crisis.
The first half of Airaa is treated like a normal Tamil horror comedy film. It’s full of camera movements to create eerie effects; there's a character which only the heroine can see plus strange sounds to heighten the tension. All this is laced with large doses of Nayanthara- Yogi Babu- Kulappuli Leela comedy. The second half becomes more of an emotional revenge story of the ‘unlucky’ Bhavani, who is looking for some happiness in the company of Amudhan, the only person who understands her problems. In fact, Bhavani’s back story is more interesting than the drab horror effects in the first part. But the real problem with the narration is that Bhavani’s reason for revenge in the final big reveal scene is a bit of a dampener and not convincing.
There are a few exciting moments in the film, which otherwise has far too many logical loopholes that leave the audiences confused. Airaa is a complete Nayanthara double role film as she is there in almost all frames of the 2-hour-21-minutes film. She is terrific especially in the de-glamorised role without any make-up of the dark skinned Bhavani. The rest of the cast are there just as props in this technically slick film, tightly edited with apt background score by newcomer KS Sundaramurthy. Overall, if you are a Nayanthara fan you may enjoy it to a certain extent.
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