Airaa: A Predictable and Melodramatic Thriller With Silly Reasoning
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
One of the first things a good film does is convince you of the reason for its existence. You may not relate to the film, the film’s genre might not appeal to you, the film may not have tried to do anything new, but for a film to be accepted, it must convince the audience of its purpose. Airaa fails in this department and from the beginning till the end, you are not convinced with the film’s reasoning, staging or it’s perspective. It is a thriller film and yet, it doesn’t have even one scene that will put you on the edge of your seat. It dives into the evils superstitious beliefs bring and yet these evils are far too melodramatically portrayed to appear convincing. Instead of pushing boundaries with a refreshing approach, Airaa disappoints you with its poor staging and inconsistent writing.
Airaa unravels the journeys of two characters, parallelly. One is based on Yamuna (Nayanthara), a working woman who seeks recluse in her grandmother’s bungalow in Pollachi when her parents pressure her to marry. The second track follows Amudha (Kalaiyarasan), a man distraught after losing his lover in a road accident. Both these tracks come together when Yamuna finds herself haunted by a vengeful spirit and Amudha suspects that the spirit of his late lover, Bhavani (Nayanthara) is avenging her death by murdering everyone involved in the incidents that lead to her demise.
Airaa sets off with great ambitions. This much is sure from the director and writer’s efforts to include a bit of social commentary and the usual thrills. Together, the writer-director duo Priyanka Ravindran and Sarjun have tried to put together Butterfly effect and superstitions. They’ve tried to look beyond the usual format of thrillers. Sadly though, the staging in which they use this butterfly effect is poor. The story on the evils of superstitions and the heavy-handed approach in which it is told simply makes it unbearable to sit through. By throwing these two failed efforts together with inauthentic background establishment, logical loopholes, conventional and old-school plot twists and a slow pace, you have unquestionably set yourself up for failure. These are the most glaring, troublesome and tiring problems with Airaa and its sub-par execution.
The Butterfly effect if used effectively can be a great source to create tension and wonder. For example, Kamal’s Dasavatharam pitted the scientific theory against god. Putting together such opposing elements together in an interesting premise gave the film room for ample conflict. It cleverly took you back to the 12th century and tied those events with its climax set in 2004. This cleverness and a need for a strongly opposing element are what went missing in Airaa. In Dasavatharam, you aren’t reminded every second that the film is based on the butterfly effect but in Airaa, a butterfly appears in almost all scenes to remind you of this. Moreover, to combine butterfly effect with a ghost’s vengeance seems like an absurd combination to put together. Sure, whatever happened to Bhavani is unfair and maybe it could’ve been prevented too. But how can one use a scientific theory as a base to justify the existence of a ghost let alone, justify the ghost’s intention to occupy a human being’s body? So, when the reason for vengeance itself comes across as silly to the audience, sitting through the entire film just to discover this silly reason seems pretty disappointing and mindless at the end of it all.
Even though Airaa is touted to be a thriller, not one scene feels thrilling. Most of the story is predictable. To make matters worse, the film takes more than an hour to actually get to the point. When it does, you dive straight into a flashback, that is melodramatic, self-pitying and too one-note to even feel authentic. Sure, life hands Bhavani a rough hand, but to ONLY focus on this aspect and to claim that her entire life can only go down the unfortunate path seems too one-dimensional. Over and again, scenes in the flashback are staged melodramatically. There are so many scenes in which Bhavani cries and yet not once do you feel for her or connect with her.
Furthermore, the film forces itself to follow a formulaic and conventional template. An infuriating part of this template is Yogi Babu’s comedy which is mostly focused on abusing Yamuna’s elderly grandmother.
As Bhavani and Yamuna, Nayanthara delivers an average performance. She maintains the same set of expressions throughout the film and this poses as a hindrance to the character’s realism. As Amudha, Kalaiyarasan is adequate and does what is expected of him, nothing more and nothing less. Other actors such as Yogi Babu, Jayaprakash and Meera Krishnan are cast in conventional characters that offer nothing new.
The cinematography and music in Airaa are slightly more adaptive and realistic in comparison to the screenplay but these factors too should’ve been much more innovative and fresh.
On the whole, Airaa is a sub-par film with predictable plot-twists and silly reasoning that fails to convince its audience.