‘Kolaiyuthir Kaalam’ review: Nayanthara struggles to stay relevant in a patchy thriller

There’s a chance that you may have come across articles as to how film journalists handled the art of theatre-hopping while covering international film festivals. I have always wondered what it’s like to walk the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival and squeeze in some time to share an update on how I missed Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite for Francis Coppola’s Apocalypse Now: Final Cut. My Cannes dream is uncertain (no pun intended), but I sure have brushed my theatre-hopping skills, thanks to Kolaiyuthir Kaalam. For, the morning and afternoon shows were cancelled on Friday, owing to KDM issues and the show finally started late in the evening.

Kolaiyuthir Kaalam was advertised (not technically ‘advertised’, but you get my point, right?) as a mystery-thriller. On the face of it, there are several mysteries surrounding Kolaiyuthir Kaalam, if you’re willing to excuse the mystery over its release date. The first obvious mystery: Nayanthara. Most people would ask this question: ‘Why Nayanthara, why?’ But I’m more curious on the ‘what’ part. What could have excited Nayanthara to say ‘why not’ to this? Is it the premise? Which is about a speech and hearing-impaired girl, who gets trapped in a deserted yet luxurious mansion in Sussex — one that partly resembles Wayne Manor (from The Dark Knight series) — and has to escape from a masked man, wearing poor man's Assassin Creed’s costume. The idea, sure, looks like a terrific set-up for a psychological thriller on paper — something along the lines of Don't Breathe or the recent Game Over. But what we see on screen tells a completely different story.

Kolaiyuthir Kaalam
  • Cast: Nayanthara, Bhumika Chawla, Pratap Pothen and Rohini Hattangadi
  • Director: Chakri Toleti
  • Storyline: Following the death of her mother, Shruthi Lawson (who’s speech and hearing-impaired) relocates to Sussex where she confronts her worst fears

Or could it be the marvelously generic backstory? About a British businessman Charles Lawson who weds an Indian girl Abha. The duo is a childless couple and adopts Shruthi (Nayanthara), in an attempt to find a ‘female’ heir to their... throne. Or does it have to do with the thrills? Sample this: Shruthi takes a stroll in a hedge maze. Again, it’s a terrific setting for sending chills down the spine. The camera follows her and the eerie tone readies us for a lip-smacking jump scare. But the stretch turns out to be a bummer and she ends up lighting a Buddha statue. Given the duration of the scene and her long walk, I wondered if she went looking for the Triwizard cup amid lush greenery. The movie features a liberal mix of foreign and Indian actors, and appears like a British-Indian co-production. But the moment they start talking, they look like a dubbed version of a foreign film. For instance, it employs archaic techniques — a bad use of establishing shots to convey a wealth of information and relies on voice-overs to show the scheme of things.

The problem is, nobody seemed remotely interested in Kolaiyuthir Kaalam. Not even its director Chakri Toleti whose Billa 2 I’m a fan of. So, why expect us to take it seriously?

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 8:06:21 PM |

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