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A thriller with a college campus as the background. The concept is definitely new to Tamil cinema. But the treatment? As often therein lies the snag. Media Dreams' "Whistle" sees the light of day, after being in the making for quite some time.

The arts college has an unused building in the campus. It is said to be haunted by the spirit, Naga. And adding to the blind belief is Professor Paneer (Livingston), whose only subject of classroom discussion seems to be Naga.

The scenario is only too well laid out for a few murders to happen at regular intervals. If a book in the library on the subject weren't enough, even an old college magazine has drawings of the manner in which each murder would take place. Interspersed are duets and group dances — commercial aspects a film cannot do without. And by the time the culprit is brought to book, you are too weary to react. Primarily, tautness is what "Whistle" lacks.

The story is not wholly original. Adapted to suit the trend of today's Tamil cinema, formula ingredients have been included, only to mar the tempo.

Sujatha takes credit for the dialogue. Scatological interpolations in the name of comedy, `jokes' you've heard a million times before and sonorous song and dance refrains hamper the strain of suspense.

Vivek's track begins in Mel Gibson style ("What Women Want") and dwindles into unsavoury fare. As if the killings were not enough, the heroines have a scary past that rolls out to confound the viewer. Every time your interest is kindled, it is doused by an unconnected sequence.

A student has been missing from the college for more than a week. But till the mother from the village turns up at the college gates, and even after, the authorities seem least perturbed!

The hero is suspended for a week, the principal says. He could just attend the exam, he is told. There is some talk of pardon for the heroine and that's about it. But you see the hero going around the campus till the end as if nothing happened. In fact, such vagueness is evident in many parts of "Whistle". Again how come there's no sign of decomposition when the bodies are discovered a few days after the murder?

Gayathri Raghuram's face is beautiful and her expressions are just right. But rotundity seems to come in the way of wholesome appeal. Shireen has solid scenes to prove herself, which she does to a certain extent. Vikramaditya, the new hero, is apt.

Strangely, a couple of Imman's numbers begin well. But after the pallavi, he gives the impression that he is at sea. Fowzia's cinematography has a yen for darkness. If adding to the confusion was her idea, the camera achieves it for her.

Being inspired by foreign flicks is no crime, provided justice is done to the subject borrowed.


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