There's much to like in this thriller that keeps us guessing despite a few stumbles.

6ne Maili review This thriller starts strong but runs out of fuel
Flix Sandalwood Friday, July 06, 2018 - 15:24

What’s going on with our protagonist’s phone and the constant stream of messages that he never talks about? Why does everyone along the way look so suspicious? What’s with all the tense looks everyone’s exchanging?

Going by all the questions that pop into one’s mind in the opening half hour of 6ne Maili, it’s easy to see that the film is doing a more than competent job of setting up its thrill ride. And with some fairly simple misdirects early in the film, director SeeNi ensures that the audience is left with enough interesting loose ends to keep them guessing.

In this straightforwardly plotted but engagingly narrated thriller, a group of trekkers sets out to a remote forest region in the Dakshina Kannada district, in an area that the film tells us has been notorious for Maoist activity in the past. Along the way, however, they disappear without a trace. As the film tracks back in time, to a previous set of trekkers disappearing in just the same way, you see a pattern emerging, but the film cleverly manages to keep many of the questions unanswered till the interval.

And it does more than that. Unlike most Sandalwood films that obsess over a single hero, and simply throw up disposable, cardboard cutouts of all other characters, 6ne Maili gets us invested in characters who disappear halfway through the film, but whose stories are integral to the plot. So, when these characters suddenly become the victims of a terrible crime, the audience actually has a chance to be moved by their fate.

It’s also nice to see that the plot takes care to explain why and how certain characters do the things they do in the film, rather than abruptly give them superhuman abilities and unexplained motives. So, when one of the characters escapes the villains by diving into a large body of water, we’re ready to believe it because we’re told he’s a former national swimmer and can manage underwater feats we couldn’t.

What’s more, even as it takes its time establishing its characters, it cleverly refrains from overstuffing the plot with sentimental and ham-handed complications, that could distract from the narrative . What’s particularly impressive is the way director SeeNi steers clear of clumsy scenes of small-talk, only making his characters speak when there’s a need to move the story forward.

The cast matches up to the attention the plot gives them, with Sanchari Vijay leading from the front. RJ Nethra has her moments onscreen too.  

Perhaps the one place where 6ne Maili falls drastically short is in fleshing out its villains. Halfway through the film, they are dubbed psychopaths and the director seems satisfied with this bland judgement of their actions.

Because there’s no complexity or nuance to the villains, the engaging setup of the first half falls into a predictable and flat second half, as the director can’t seem to find a way to keep the tension building.  So, the mystery gets revealed all too soon, and the second half drags to an unexciting finish. While there are some nice inversions of what we’re led to believe in the early parts of the film, the lack of a climactic twist gives a rather insipid end to the story.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.

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