In a scene in Venkat Prabhu’s Biriyani, the hero’s friends rally around him and commit to fighting tooth and nail to help him out of crisis. Tasks are delegated while one guy wears a sullen face: “Naaku fight scene ledha?” he asks. It’s this kind of irreverent fun that makes this film different from regular thrillers. Venkat Prabhu has the knack of introducing situational comedy in nail-biting scenes, without diluting the drama.

Biriyani tells you the story of two men — smart alec Sudhir (Karthi) who cheats in exams and tops the class and has a way with women from his school days, and the lucked out Parasuram (Premgi Amaren), the guy who bears the brunt of Sudhir’s actions and loses the best women to him.

What happens when these two madcap friends get caught in a whodunit after a terrible Hangover? The reference to that film maybe incidental but can’t be overlooked. Mercifully, this isn’t another Hangover spin-off.

Business tycoon Varadarajulu (Nasser) is in the CBI radar but before the investigator can corner him, he goes missing. The cops are on a hunt for suspects Sudhir and Parasuram while the CBI suspects foul play on part of Varadarajulu and his son-in-law Vijay Krishna (Ramki) with help from the assistant commissioner of police. Sudhir and Parasuram suspect Vijay Krishna and serve a googly with the help of television reporter Priyanka (Hansika). But there’s more to the mystery than a simple power struggle in the business family.

What starts off as a fun ride that’s at time pointless and mundane redeems itself as the plot thickens and more players are involved. There’s a lot to like about Biriyani. The scene where Karthi wins the confidence of Nasser by reeling out flattering anecdotes of his early days, with help from Premgi who is reading it off the web, is a hoot. All the characters and incidents that show up randomly have a part to play in the mystery. The director untangles the mesh quite well and keeps you involved in connecting the dots.

Karthi and Premgi make for a lethal combination, bringing the house down on many occasions. Karthi can put the forgettable Bad Boy (Alex Pandian in Tamil) and All in All Azhagu Raja behind him. Yuvan Shankar Raja’s music, crisp editing by Praveen Srikanth and Sakthi Saravanan’s cinematography are Biriyani’s pluses.

A few niggling things come in the way of making this film a good watch. Was it necessary to have that ‘chick metre’ scene as Premgi and Karthi ogle at women? Cracking a joke at the expense of two ordinary-looking women at a party was uncalled for. The double entendre where a ‘piece’ stands for both meat and a woman was in poor taste. So were the references to ‘foreign car’ and ‘Indian car’.

At the hands of an experienced chef, the Hyderabadi dum biryani with layers of meat, rice and spices cooked on slow heat will make for a winsome meal as the flavours seep through the layers. But this is ‘biriyani’. Forget the spelling, despite some good ingredients and reasonably good cooking methods, there’s something that doesn’t come together and stops this from being a delectable meal.

Sample this Biriyani for some good moments and overlook a few others.

BIRIYANI

Cast: Karthi, Hansika Motwani, Premgi Amaren, Nasser and Ramki

Direction: Venkat Prabhu

Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja

Bottom line: There’s flavour minus the ‘dum’.