Tamil Reviews

Dora Review: Nayanthara Is Indeed A Superstar, But Can We Get Better Screenwriters Please?

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Dora Review: Silverscreen Original Review of film starring Nayanthara

This Dora Review need only be 10 words long. Nayanthara Deserves Her Superstar Title, But Everything Else Falls Flat.  

However, since the lovely editors at Silverscreen demand (rightly) more, here it is.

Dora is a supernatural horror-thriller film starring Nayanthara, Thambi Ramiah, Harish Uthaman, and a few others. Produced by Sarkunam and Hitesh Jhabak, it is directed by Doss Ramaswamy. 

The film features a possessed car, some very bad, totally unnecessary CGI, and a male lead who is as necessary to the film’s proceedings as heroines are in masala films, so let’s chalk that up as a win for women’s empowerment. 

***

There was some controversy over the story of Dora, with a television writer alleging that Sarkunam and Doss Ramaswamy stole his script. However, the film writer’s union arbitrated the matter, and Dora was allowed to proceed, and was released. The reason this bit of news is part of the review, is that one hopes the two writers could have collaborated a bit more, and worked better on the script.

The movie has a great lead actress and a not-so-bad plot, but is let down by its script. There is a lot of flab – especially in the top half of the film, where interactions between father and daughter are padded out unnecessarily.

The rest of the film’s a bit like driving in Bangalore. Just when you think you’ve picked up some speed, you brake for a red light, and wait for other things and other people to go by before you can start up again.

Still from Dora
Still from Dora

Nayanthara plays Pavalakodi, a young woman with no apparent occupation, while Thambi Ramiah plays her father, also with no visible means of income. How the two of them manage to hold on to what looks like a rather big, lovely, old house in the city, and carry on life is perhaps the biggest mystery of the film. 

Into each life some plot device must fall, and so father and daughter buy a vintage car in the hopes of besting a jealous aunt. For the next 15 minutes or so, we are treated to rather unnecessary antics in the guise of comic relief. Meanwhile, somewhere a three-member gang kill and maim for money. 

The police force – represented by a fit young Harish Uthaman with a perpetual scowl – chase up clues and thrash innocent bystanders to uncover the mystery. 

***

But first… 

A stereotypical Tamil cinema situation – the ritual of ponnu paakkarathu – seeing, evaluating, judging the bride – is set up perfectly. The girl brings out the coffee and snacks, the mother-in-law-to-be grants her approval. The hero walks in, the heroine flashes her eyelids.

Just when you expect heroine and hero to coyly nod their approval of each other and a cut to a foreign location where chaste Tamil ponnu wears knee-high boots and cavorts in the middle of the street for the enjoyment of the Tamil payyan, brakes! Boy does not want to marry, does not like the girl. The girl (rightfully) takes offense. 

I loved this bit, and expected something to come out of it. Surely, surely, this conflict will need to be blown up.

And it does. For a bit. 

And then nothing. 

***

Almost midway into the film, we realise that all’s not well with the car, and things will perhaps begin to move. The spirit that haunts the car comes to life, takes over, and extracts the first of its revenge. We get a sort-of-explanation for the haunting. And then a further explanation. However, things slow down again here for the explanation, and the built up excitement and adrenaline is left to peter away. 

Permit us a digression.

Why would anyone go to a Fertility Research Centre for a heart transplant? Which ambulance service on earth takes a victim of rape / murder to a maternity centre? Why, why, why do writers, directors, producers make such rookie mistakes?

***

If cars were women, this film would pass the Bechdel-Wallace test by a mile. Pavalakodi and Dora – the revenge-seeking dog-spirit become friends and partners in crime. And here is where Nayanthara comes into her own. A fantastic stunt sequence and a superbly executed killing later, she walks on, Superstar like. 

From here, till the end of the film (and it’s a rather predictable end), there is very little horror/thrills, but there’s definitely a lot of action. 

***

Throughout the film, Thambi Ramiah experiments with facial distortions which pass for expressions of humour/fear. Throughout his appearance in the film, Harish Uthaman scowls majestically, and sometimes dejectedly. It’s left, then, Nayanthara to actually do the acting. There’s one little scene that’s set up a tiny bit like the one in Anniyan, in which Vikram alternates between a cowering innocent, and a mean-as-heck killer. Nayanthara, in Dora, does the same and plays it without having to resort to multiple personalities, or a hair out of place. 

***

It’s 2017: can we please, please, avoid excruciatingly bad CGI to show someone’s heart beating? 

***

The Dora review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.

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