Cast: Arjun Sarja, Vijay Antony, Ashima Narwal, Nasser
Director: Andrew Louis
Rarely do I give so many stars to a Tamil film, but Andrew Louis' thriller, Kolaigaran or Murderer, had me gripped for the two hours of its run time. Yes, writer-director Louis does fall prey to what I would call the entertainment swing by inserting three songs, needless of course in a narrative of this genre where the slightest of distraction from the core plot tends to rob the soul and spirit of the movie. Also, in a work where dialogues are paramount, the irritatingly loud background score drowns the conversation in places.
Despite all this, Kolaigaran is a taut, thrilling and mysterious that has been inspired by the widely acclaimed Japanese novel, The Devotion of Suspect X. And the film begins with a tense black-and-white scene of a beautiful girl having her throat slit. It is only the very end that we get to find out who the girl was and who the killer.
Louis' work then cuts to a confession at a police station in Chennai. But before this, we have to grapple with another murder, a man this time. Vijay Antony's (still wooden of sorts) Prabhakaran confesses to having killed the man, pushing an investigating officer, Karthikeyan (essayed by a positively tired looking Arjun Sarja), towards a startling discovery.
In a flashback mode following this cop-and-killer meeting, the movie introduces Dharani (Ashima Narwal) and her mother. They appear to have run away from a stalker, Vamsi, in Hyderabad, but live in constant fear – with their Chennai neighbour, Prabhakaran, a seemingly comforting presence.
Kolaigaran is excitingly paced and takes us through Karthikeyan's dilemma of being almost on the brink of discovering the truth, and yet finding himself unable to put his finger on the culprit. In a vague sort of way, Kolaigaran resembles Papanasam, where the hero has an elaborate plan to fox the police.
Here we know who the culprit is, not in Kolaigaran, which gives it an added zing. Louis uses suspense effectively to lead us on in a work that avoids the usual cliches of Tamil cinema. Arjun lets go his trademark heroism to play a sleuth who often finds himself on the wrong road -- with Anthony essaying every bit a shrewd manipulator.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran is an author, commentator and movie critic)