Belles and booze in excess causing unpleasant repercussions are understandable. But can you believe that along with the above, a stopover for two plates of biriyani, throws two harmless, happy-go-lucky young men into a quagmire of lust, murder and conspiracy, with the threat of the gallows looming large? Incredible, yes, and interesting too! The premise of Biriyani (U/A) reveals the ingenuity of writer-director Venkat Prabhu.

Garnishing grave situations with his brand of humour and bringing in actors who’ve worked with him earlier in at least one scene of his films are a norm with Venkat Prabhu. Biriyani too has them in plenty. Not to forget his penchant for one-liners from other films — ‘Ennaachu?’ from Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom, for instance, which you also heard in the recent Naveena Saraswathi Sabadham — being repeated in Biriyani. Of course, they add flavour.

The circumstances that lead to a gargantuan problem for the men makes you feel that it could be a take-off on Hollywood’s The Hangover. But it isn’t so. Again, driving around with a dead man in the boot of a car isn’t an entirely original idea. Still, Biriyani is an almost complete ‘Venkat Prabhu diet’ as the promos proclaim.

Barring Chennai – 600028 and probably Saroja, every Venkat Prabhu outing has spelt style. So does Biriyani. It is one of those rare films where Karthi has been allowed to look smart, stylish and classy. Prabhu has provided ample scope for the hero to flex his muscles, showcase his performing skill, romance around and shake a leg in impressive fashion. After successive dampeners — Alex Pandian, Saguni, All in All Azhagu Raja — looks like Biriyani (U/A) will put Karthi back on the winning track.

It’s a mystery that Premgi shines only in Prabhu’s films! His presence hardly makes a difference in the few of the other projects he’s worked on. In Biriyani, Premgi has been used judiciously, unlike in Goa that backfired. But in how many more Prabhu films are you going to watch Premgi hit the bottle and roam around with a roving eye? Surely, Prabhu can begin to think of other suitable characters for his bro. And Madhumita as the elder sister of the hero? Really sad!

Hansika is a beauty on duty with a television channel and accomplishes what’s expected of her. Very astutely, Prabhu has not gone overboard with duets on the lead pair. Hence pedestrian ideas, like the mask Premgi is made to wear, and sensitive news regarding the owner of the channel being aired so easily by a reporter and her cameraperson colleague, are not what you expect from a maker of his stature. Procrastination is evident at certain points, because Prabhu has too many loose ends to tie up.

The racy opening scene sets the tone straightway. Only that the flashback mode Biriyani switches to could have been crisper. Also, towards the end too many things happen at too quick a pace. In his urge to come up with a motive for murder that none can guess, Prabhu makes matters slightly confusing.

Two of the lyrics are the late Vaalee’s. The words of the ‘Mississippi’ number make you wonder how an 80-year-old’s thought process could have been so youthful till the end! Yuvan’s music for his 100th film isn’t spectacular, yet the ‘Nahna Na’ refrain stays with you.

Intelligent line, sensible humour, particularly at the most unexpected moments, Sakthi Saravanan’s contribution with the lens, Silva’s noteworthy action choreography and Karthi’s energy are scoring points of this Venkat Prabhu offering. Youth should find the Biriyani quite tasty.

Genre: Murder mystery

Director: Venkat Prabhu

Cast: Karthi, Hansika, Premgi Amaran

Storyline: A drive on the highway lands two friends in serious trouble.

Bottomline: This Biriyani is interesting.