If anything, Kalavu Thozhirchalai is ambitious. It wants to be a pacy crime thriller with an ingenious plot, and to this effect, it wants to employ the ever-fascinating legacy of the Chozhas. A lovely temple heist involving subterranean caves, decoding inscriptions on pillars wrought centuries ago, and generally, creating an air of mystery that comes with the territory.
But what Kalavu Thozhirchalai attempts, it doesn’t succeed at.
Vamsi Krishna, as Suresh Chandra, a member of an organised crime group plans a heist in a renowned temple in Thanjavur. He eyes the idol – a maragathalingam (an emerald linga) which glows from within as if painted neon – and enlists the help of a local petty thief to do the job. The thief, hilariously named ‘Sweet’ Ravi, has quite the reputation -“I don’t steal idols,” he says, “I move them” – and lives in abject poverty.
Suresh Chandra, as the operator of the crime, is always glued to his Mac, staring at what looks like a video-game like interface that maps the heist area. He explores little known caves used by the Chozhas, walks, crawls, dusts, coughs and does what it takes to make us believe that there’s something serious underway. There’s also a continuous stream of commentary – in the form of a voice-over – to announce what Vamsi is up to, thanks to which, and the general setup, the plot ignites no interest. It’s dull and dreary, with songs snuck in at random intervals that by the end of the first half – which is propped up to be a moment pregnant with suspense – all that it elicits is a dry chuckle.
It’s easy to see what the censor board would have loved in the movie, though. Seeking to restore the much-revered and worshipped idol of the Tanjore temple, is a CBI officer named Irfan. He risks his life, doles out lessons in upholding the culture of the place, which he mysteriously connects to the lost idol, and is so eerily reminiscent of Vijayakanth in throes of patriotic fervour. He also traces Sweet Ravi with a cigarette butt that he had left behind – something that eloquently describes the kind of crime thriller that has been conceived.
Indeed as the movie closes, with scenic views of Yercaud, and a really boring chase – there just isn’t any engagement, just an dispassionate observation of the proceedings. And when Irfan shoots straight at Vamsi’s heart in the penultimate scene, you wonder whether there’s any real science to the movement of blood which spurts from his chest; wouldn’t it be more of a gentle trickle than a sudden burst of red?
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