“Criss-Cross,” Robert Walker calls it in Alfred Hitchcock's slick thriller, Strangers on a Train. “I'll kill your wife and you kill my dad,” is the deal he suggests to a stranger he happens to meet on a train. New director Rajan Madhav uses the concept, gives it suitable desi twists, vests it with the right amount of originality to make it plausible and makes a neat presentation called Murann (U). Strangers has them meeting on a train, here it's on a highway and in a car.

More a psychological thriller, Murann has a suspenseful story that makes you sit up particularly in the last one hour or so. Yet it is to Rajan Madhav's credit that Murann has no crassness or gore. And the deftness, with which he builds up the story to a crescendo, even as he keeps the suspense under wraps for long, shows the calibre of this first-timer.

Prasanna plays Arjun, the rich, spoilt kid, who is willing to go to any length to kill his dad. Murder means little to him — money alone matters. Easily it is the best role that has come Prasanna's way so far, and the actor has made full use of it. Giving the character the apt measure of suaveness and style it demands, he exudes charm throughout. Commendably underplayed! The actor deserves to scale greater heights, at least after Murann!

Cheran, as Nanda, the sober and sedate car companion, whose hitchhike lands him in a soup is neat. He scores creditably in the climax. Murann shows that the director is maturing as an actor too.

The only negating aspect of the film is the time it takes to pick up speed. That the initial action is limited mainly to two characters driving on the highway could be a reason. The cuts to the past help, though. Among the three main female roles, Haripriya has a lot to do and she does it well. Cute, soft and homely, she appeals in the part of Lavanya, whose chance meeting with Nanda (Cheran) draws her into the dragnet of trouble. Nikita and Suma are the other two.

Forget ‘Andhi Mandhaarai,' but ‘Idhu varai' and ‘Naan Kandaen' are soothing melodies from Saajan Madhav. And the re-recording in the climax warrants mention. Aesthetically shot by Padmesh, the lighting that adds to the aura of mystery make his work notable.

Go ahead folks! You'll enjoy the contradictions in Murann. And if you've not watched the Hitchcock drama, you'll enjoy it even more!

Murann

Genre: Thriller

Director: Rajan Madhav

Cast: Cheran, Prasanna, Haripriya

Storyline: A drive on the highway that leads to murders and blackmail …

Bottomline: The suspense works

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Tamil Cinema ReviewsOctober 18, 2011