Director: Pawan Kumar
Cast: Shraddha Srinath, Roger Narayan, Radhika Chetan, Dilip Raj, Skanda, Krishna, Aarna Kulkarni, Sudha Belwadi
The heart sinks when the climax is revealed in Pawan Kumar’s U Turn . ‘Is that it?’ echoes in the cinema hall because until then Kumar had constructed a pretty thrilling plot, one that was devoid of loopholes and pretence. However, during the last 30 minutes, it is almost as if Kumar did not know what to do with the puzzle that he had so interestingly devised. And so, he ends up taking refuge in the much abused and clichéd trope of the horror/thriller genre.
Rachana (Shraddha Srinath) is an intern at a newspaper. She is working on an article on accidents on the Double Road flyover in Bengaluru. She finds that each day, some motorists move blocks that partition the road just to take a U-turn. Of course, they don’t move them back and the blocks now lying randomly on the road lead to many accidents.
A homeless man sitting on the flyover notes down the vehicle numbers of commuters who violate the rule and take the U-turn and gives them to Rachana. She tracks them one by one and discovers that all of them appear to have committed suicide on the day they broke the traffic rule.
The police learn of this coincidence and inspector Nayak (Roger Narayan) helps Rachana uncover the mystery.
But are they suicides or murders? Are the deaths connected to each other and to the flyover? Why do they all die on the day they moved those blocks? The answers form the crux of the second half.
In the first half, Kumar keeps you hooked to the screen. The doggedness of Rachana finds resonance in the pace of the film, which persistently pulls you in and traps you. There are moments which make you jump in your seat – the credit for which is due both to the clever use of sound as well as Kumar’s exceptional narrative timing.
This is why, with such a fantastic set-up, the clichéd and even lame climax is rather disappointing and frustrating. Let it be known that one’s grouse is not with the fact that the climax isn’t ‘realistic’. Thrillers needn’t always be realistic as long as they manage to make you wallop in the adventure. And so they have to keep up the pace they begin with. Unfortunately, U turn falls rather flat and comes across as a plot that uses a lazy resolution.
Having said that , U Turn has more intriguing moments than lame ones. The opening credits sequence, for instance, with the camera adopting the point of view of the dividing blocks is arresting to say the least. To add to it, the song ‘Karma… Karma...’ is an intelligent prelude to the film that toys with ideas of the cycle of cause and effect, punishment and retribution. There is another fantastic dream sequence that juxtaposes the commotion in the mind of the protagonist on to the flyover, which itself is a character in the film. The film’s lived-in sets also add to the charm of the overall narrative.
Shraddha Shrinath and Roger Narayan, who make their debut, perform well. Radhika Chetan, who appears in a cameo, too essays her bit with fealty. The real let down is Kumar who really seems lost as he directs a linear narrative and takes a turn that simply doesn’t take him where it should.