Director: Chakri Toleti
Cast: Nayanthara, Bhumika Chawla, Prathap Pothen, Rohini Hattangadi
Kolaiyuthir Kaalam is Nayanthara’s, even though the film – a remake of American film Hush – is co-written by Chakri Toleti, and directed by him. It is Nayanthara’s because one is a fangirl, but also because Nayanthara really does own the screen (and sometimes hams it up, but which hero hasn’t?) for most of the film.
And this is despite some really grating dubbing, a very dragged-out, boring buildup of the thrills, and extremely glaring continuity errors.
Kolaiyuthir Kaalam is co-written by Chakri Toleti, Sara Bodinar, Carl Lauricella, and Adam Hiebeler. It stars Nayanthara, Bhumika Chawla, Prathap Pothen, Rohini Hattangadi and others. It was shot by Cory Geryak and edited by Shakti Hasija, and features music by Achu Rajamani. The film was produced by V Mathiazhagan and Rameshwar Bhagat.
The film faced many delays in release, due to a conflict over the title, financial troubles and more. Even after these were sorted, there were three delays yesterday when the film was to finally hit the screens. And thus it reached us this Saturday morning, to a fairly full cinema hall. An audience that required some thrills to wake them up on a lazy morning. Unfortunately, the film did not rise up to the occasion.
Nayanthara as Shruti is the heiress to a vast fortune – a big estate in Sussex, England. How that big an estate becomes the legacy of a Tamil girl is said in snatches of flashback. A rich white man, descendant of a British Raj officer, marries a Tamil woman who later adopts a girl who can neither speak nor hear. An impairment at birth.
And so she arrives in England for the first time to claim her fortune. Even as a mysterious cloaked figure roams the grounds of the estate and may have perhaps claimed his first victim.
Shruti arrives to meet estate manager and lawyer, Prathap Pothen, and caretaker-cook-friend of the family, Rohini Hattangadi. And then there are two other claimants to the estate. A cousin and his wife, cousin by marriage to Shruti’s adoptive mother.
It is a bit tenuous this, the idea that a large British estate owned by a family called Lawson (which is pronounced Laaasen and Loson alternatively by the dubbing artist who is the voice of Abha Lawson – Shruti’s mother) comes to be populated entirely by Tamil speaking Indians. There really isn’t anything in the film, or in popular culture to support this except one throwaway statement in a flashback. Who are these people? How did a parcel of Sussex land come to them? When and where did Lawson the first or third or fifth come across brown people? Yes, we have a background for Abha Lawson the Tamil speaking Sussex heiress but how did her cousin by marriage (to a white man) also end up Tamil?
But assuming we can suspend disbelief willingly for this, how does one explain the complete lack of a large staff for this big estate? One general handyman-farm manager and one gardener-help? Where are the others? The lawns are well manicured and kept, the flowerbeds are trim and neat, the hedges are pruned, the grounds are vast and clean, and the gravel driveway is raked and levelled. This requires not insignificant labour, but we see no one. Yes, fair enough, the film recounts happenings over a 24 hour period but is it too much to ask for some believable background actors?
Well, all right. More suspension of disbelief. The setting – a gloomy grey wintry day in England provides a fair bit of atmosphere for the thriller. Rolling mists, gathering clouds, a threat of rain. And to complement this, this bulk of a manor house. Ivy on the walls, grey stone blocks keeping light at bay.
Cinematographer Cory Geryak lights the house up sparingly, practicals visible in frames that seem to enhance the shadows both inside the house and out. But then the background score kicks in. Ominous and threatening in intention but very normal and perhaps even deflating the tension. Silence may have helped us more here.
There are three quick killings very early into the film, and we are to believe this masked, cloaked figure is invincible. We are also intentionally allowed to believe that the killer maybe someone we already have seen but this, obviously, is a red herring and I believe no one in the cinema hall fell for it. In fact, I and, I suspect, pretty much everybody else very early on figured out the principal behind the killer agent. That twist wasn’t entirely surprising.
At times, this may be a clever screenplay trick. When we are allowed to know how things will eventually pan out, we the audience can actually focus on the actual build up of the scares. Knowing how something ends allows us to concentrate on the proceedings. And so a good director can load this bit up with ever increasing thrills and spills.
Unfortunately for Chakri and Kolaiyuthir Kaalam, these fall flat. The only menacing thing in the film – somewhere between the third killing and the end – is the music. There are also three, maybe four, continuity errors. Nayanthara seems to slip in and out of various footwear while being chased by a killer.
But then, it is Nayanthara. For fan girls, that may be all we need.
The Kolaiyuthir Kaalam review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.