The ghost is surely the most overused element in current-day Tamil cinema. So much so that it might soon have a fan club. In director Vijay’s Devi , we have a ghost that can actually sign a contract. Yes, that’s what it has come to. Thankfully, that is among the least of the laughable sequences in this Prabhu Deva-Tamannaah starrer. Devi works as an engaging horror film, save for the overdose of dance and frolic that takes away the thrills.
The story is largely based in Mumbai ( Devi is being promoted as a trilingual) but things in the first half get going in a village near Coimbatore. We get to know Krishna (Prabhu Deva), who is desperately searching for a ‘modern girl’ (“English grammar lam seriya pesanum ”).
Maybe the Gods misheard his prayers. Instead of someone with good grammar, he ends up having to marry a girl from a good gramam . She’s Devi (Tamannaah), a stereotypical rural belle who runs around in sarees and pavadais. Once in Mumbai, he tries to get rid of her by moving to a new apartment that he later finds out is… no prizes for guessing… haunted.
Armed with the theme of bipolar disorder, the film launches into the medical lessons we already learnt from Anniyan and 3. And then, Devi becomes the Devi(l) and begins to change so rapidly that her unsuspecting husband is unable to keep pace.
Vijay manages to weave an interestingly layered plot. I kept wishing he’d cast someone younger for the male lead; Prabhu Deva barely manages to come across as charming in the initial scenes, but pulls it together as the film gathers pace. And, he can certainly give younger heroes a run for their money when it comes to dancing to the super-fast numbers… he is still good.
Tamannaah keeps her performance spirited despite her initial jadedness as a village belle. She musters courage once the action shifts base to Mumbai, and hangs on till the very end, even as Sonu Sood (who plays a star) struggles to get his lip-sync right. Murali Sharma as the star’s assistant impresses, while RJ Balaji is a scream. I found myself glued to his expressions even when he wasn’t delivering funny lines. Just like I enjoyed Raju Sundaram’s ten-second cameo, especially his friendly jibe at Prabhu Deva’s dance at a railway station (“ Ivanuku Idhe Velaiya Pochu…Appo Gauthami, Ippo Amy ”).
The fulcrum of the film, though, is the way in which the ghost is portrayed – and that , for me, was craftily worked out by a director whose earlier offerings have been a tad too saccharine. Maybe Devi is Vijay’s way of saying he can do pei-sa vasool entertainers too.
Cast: Prabhu Deva, Tamannaah, Sonu Sood, RJ Balaji
Storyline: Post marriage, a woman transforms into someone else…and the husband must save her
Bottomline: A horror film that’s engaging most of the time