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Tales from grave

serish nanisetti
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cosy twosomeSindhu Menon and Aadi in ‘Vaishali'
cosy twosomeSindhu Menon and Aadi in ‘Vaishali'

In an earlier era, this movie might have been calledRakta Pisachi orPyaasi Chudail orKhooni Atma or another such blood-curdling name. Instead, this is calledVaishali (dubbed fromEeram). It is a mellow love story that begins with an apparent suicide and moves into the realm of paranormal before coming back to reality. The film begins with the drip-drop of water inside an apartment, the greyness of the screen and the sounds suggest something tragic. The watchman knocks on the door and a woman's body is discovered in a bathtub with a suicide note in red ink that blames no one. A cop walks in civvies and meets his friend who knows that the dead woman Vaishali (Sindhu Menon) and the ACP Vasudevan (Aadi) shared a relationship during college days in Nellore before she married Balu (Nanda).

It looks like a too perfect suicide and the neighbours start squealing about character of Vaishali and how a man would come to visit her. Bingo! It is an open and shut case. Aadi doesn't think so and pursues the case with vigour as if there is no other case in the world. Another neighbour of Vaishali flips backwards on a puddle of water and dies on the spot. Then an old man walking in a park dies with an umbrella piercing his throat. The killings continue and a pattern emerges in the water which Vasudevan witnesses.

It is not the story or the unusual happenings that keep you glued to the seat but the way the director uses multiple narratives that blend in seamlessly without the need for a commentary. For an occult thriller, it is neither scary nor ghoulish, nor does it promise thrill-a-minute ride, but in the timespan of two hours and thirty minutes it keeps you engrossed.

It switches from a murder mystery to a tender sensitive love story that explores human relationships to human greed, lust and transforms into an occult drama. Sindhu Menon is brilliant in an understated deglamourised role, while Aadi essays an intense performance. Nanda as the borderline psychopath who suspects his wife's fidelity and is egged on by his sidekick who almost reprises the role of Iago is a standout effort.

More than anything else, Arivazhagan brings a controlled finesse, technical virtuosity and characterisation that is perfect.

serish nanisetti

Vaishali

Genre:Occult thriller

Cast: Sindhu Menon, Aadi, Nanda, Sharanya

Director:Arivazhagan

Music:Thaman

Bottomline:Thriller without chills


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