Diya movie review: This Sai Pallavi, Naga Shaurya-starrer is let down by an indistinct script

Hemanth Kumar

Apr,27 2018 14:02:43 IST

2/5

Sai Pallavi, Naga Shaurya starrer Diya is a classic example of how a psychological thriller or a horror film can get crushed under its own weight. The story delves into the life of a newly married couple and a string of accidents which leads to the death of several people close to the couple. While the premise might sound appealing enough, considering that it deals with an issue like abortion, the film is anything but interesting.

The run time is just around 100 minutes, but after watching Diya (the Telugu version is titled Kanam), you’re more likely to get completely drained out and heave a sigh of relief that the film is over.

Diya opens in a hospital where Tulasi (Sai Pallavi) and Krishna (Naga Shaurya) are awaiting the results of Tulasi’s pregnancy test. Krishna is just 19 years old, and he begins to freak out at the prospect of becoming a father soon. Soon, their respective families decide that it’s in the best interests of the youngsters if they “sort out the issue” quickly. Five years later, they get married, but a week later, several family members begin to die under mysterious circumstances. The rest of the story is about how Tulasi unravels the mystery behind these strange incidents.

Sai Pallavi in Diya. Image from Youtube.

Directed by Vijay, the film is let down by its writing and there are no two ways about it. And to make things worse than they are, Vijay hardly invests time to build the characterisations of the two lead protagonists - Tulasi and Krishna. There’s one scene, set in Shimla, where they discuss about their past, which reveals everything that you’ve to know about the past, present, and future of the story. The twist in the tale is that there are no twists in the tale. When you reveal the only secret the film has in the first 10 minutes itself, watching the rest of the film becomes a strenuous exercise. And that is an understatement.

At the very outset, Diya follows the template of several other thrillers or horror films, where wisdom strikes upon the lead character only after several people die a merciless death. Here, even though Tulasi understands the mystery, she finds herself in a helpless situation because her husband thinks that she has become a lunatic. In an ideal scenario, a conflict like this would have led to some nail-biting moments, but for some inexplicable reason, Vijay loses control over his narrative and lets the story unspool in a rudimentary fashion.

You know exactly what’s going to happen, and even the climax twist doesn’t feel thrilling. Just before the end credits roll, we are shown few statistics about the number of abortions that are being done in India and Vijay urges the audience to brood upon this issue. As important as the debate on abortions ought to be, the film hardly goes into that direction. Again, the script pays a lip-service to the issue it tries to address and in doing so, it lands in a zone where it doesn’t do justice to it. Diya is nowhere close to being a well-crafted thriller.

That Sai Pallavi is a fine actress needn’t be reiterated, and she makes couple of scenes, where she has an emotional breakdown, count. However, Diya doesn’t quite offer her enough bandwidth to go all out to rise above its flaws.

Naga Shaurya’s characterisation too feels a tad too underwritten, although his subtle performance fits quite well into the story. Among others, Vijay focuses on a police officer, played by RJ Balaji in Tamil and Priyadarshi in Telugu, who enters the story as a major distraction before he takes the onus of cracking the case. If the film’s haphazard and boring narrative doesn’t get onto your nerves, then the characterisation of the police officer certainly will.

If it was meant to be ‘comic relief’, Diya hardly has scope for that.

Some films leave a long-lasting impression when they take you on a roller-coaster ride, and some others deliver a gut-wrenching experience. In Diya, the only aspect which feels thrilling is Sam CS’ arousing background score and Nirav Shah’s cinematography, which sets the mood for the film. But then, it’s never enough to fill the gaps and jump cuts in how Vijay wants to tell the story.

The only thing  I kept thinking about was what were they trying to do and how much of it was lost in an attempt to keep the run time to under two hours. A big thumbs down to Diya. There are a million other horror and thrillers that leave you wanting for more. Diya isn’t one of them.

Updated Date: Apr 27, 2018 14:02 PM