Evaru movie review: Adivi Sesh, Regina Cassandra’s mystery thriller springs a pleasant surprise
Evaru is just under two hours and packs in plenty of surprises to keep us guessing about what would happen next.
With his recent film, Kshanam and Goodachari, Adivi Sesh has become synonymous with breathless action dramas in Telugu cinema. His latest film, Evaru, is no different. However, there is one difference. While Kshanam and Goodachari had a kinetic energy that propelled their narratives forward at breakneck speed, Evaru is designed to evoke a similar feeling. This is a film which pushes you to keep up with the pace of the action, drama, and the conversations between the lead characters, because the devil lies in the details.
Directed by newcomer Venkat Ramji, Evaru is an adaptation of the Spanish film The Invisible Guest (which was also remade in Hindi as Badla). The Telugu version deviates quite a bit from the original film. The story revolves around Sameera (Regina Cassandra) and her secret lover Ashok (Naveen Chandra), who is a cop. One fine day, Sameera is accused of killing Ashok, but she tells the cops that she did so after he sexually assaulted her. To help Sameera win the case, her lawyer seeks the help of a corrupt police officer Vikram (Adivi Sesh). The rest of the story is about what happens when Vikram meets Sameera, and how she tells him the truth about what exactly happened between her and Ashok.
Evaru begins with the premise that Sameera is innocent and that her crime was purely a self-defense mechanism. However, it does not quite establish her emotional arc. Before we get to know Sameera well, or decide whether we ought to root for her or not, the story introduces Vikram. All we know about him is that he is a corrupt cop who can do anything for money. The Rashomon effect comes to the forefront. As we begin to understand the characters better, the plot begins to make sense.
The conflict here is between truth and lies. While it does not paint any character as good or bad, for a significant portion of the narrative, the film turns the audience into a jury where each one of us is forced to suspect everyone. It has plenty of layers. As it unfolds, the motives of the characters begin to emerge. And just when you think you have figured it all out, there is a twist in the tale which pushes you to think in another direction. Part of the reason why Evaru is engaging is because you are at the mercy of the characters to speak the truth to complete a jigsaw puzzle. The truth behind the crime is hidden till the last moment. And then the film leaves you reeling with another big twist which completes the circle.
Before the film delivers its big punches, the narrative compels you to pay attention to every line delivered by its lead actors, Regina and Adivi. The first half, in particular, is quite verbose. The film too does not give you enough breathing space to soak in the drama unfolding between the two. Vikram pushes Sameera to tell the truth, she hesitates. she keeps going back and forth to explain why she had to do what she did, but Vikram does not seem convinced enough. Some of the dialogues end up being tongue-twisters, but are also quite philosophical about the nature of truth and lies. There are barely any pauses, not even when Vikram tries to light a cigarette. And then, the film cuts to a flashback to show us what happened in the lives of these two characters. The narrative goes back and forth, but if you keep up with the pace of the film, the drama works quite well.
Among the actors, Adivi anchors the narrative with his casual approach and then, he springs a surprise when his true motive is revealed. He stays true to the character and in the larger scheme of things, Vikram is like a lawyer who is helping the jury understand Sameera better. Co-incidentally, the Spanish version (and the Hindi remake too) had a lawyer confronting a person accused of murder. Although Vikram’s character is turned into a cop, he is intrinsically a lawyer, who is coaxing his client to give him the complete picture of the crime. And on the other hand, Naveen Chandra makes a solid impression as a hot-headed cop, who finds himself in a fix owing to his affair with Sameera. The film, however, truly belongs to Regina who keeps you guessing about what she is doing and whether she is innocent or guilty of the crime. The actress shines the most in emotionally-charged sequences, where she ends up taking a few decisions in a desperate situation. Nihal, who plays a key character named Adarsh, delivers a noteworthy performance.
Evaru is also an assured directorial debut for Venkat. Be it the way he keeps us hooked to the proceedings on screen or deliver a series of twists, Ramji’s work makes you sit upright and take notice of this new talent in Telugu cinema. Sricharan Pakala’s background score and Garry’s slick editing help the film turn into an engaging thriller. Cinematographer Vamsi Patchipulusu captures the beauty of Coonoor and the mystery in the air quite well. The film is just under two hours and packs in plenty of surprises to keep us guessing about what would happen next. The storytelling might feel too fast and too verbose in the beginning, but the pay-off in the end is totally worth the effort.
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