'Agni Devi' review: Bobby Simha-Madhoobala's political thriller falls flat

With things remaining unresolved behind the camera, 'Agni Devi’ seems too rushed to deal with the complications at hand.
'Agni Devi' review: Bobby Simha-Madhoobala's political thriller falls flat
'Agni Devi' review: Bobby Simha-Madhoobala's political thriller falls flat
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Even while a status quo was put in place by the Coimbatore sub court on Thursday to stay the film’s release, Agni Devi has hit the screens on Friday. Actor Bobby Simha filed a case against the film’s makers, alleging breach of agreement and claiming that the directors had used CGI and a body double to film his incomplete portions. He also stated that he had not dubbed for the film.

These claims by the actor are not without truth. For one, Bobby’s voice in the film is surely not his own and second, the film’s directors, Sham Surya and John Paul Raj (JPR), have used CGI and strategic camera angles to film a crucial pre-climax scene.

With issues remaining unresolved behind the camera, Agni Devi’s story too seems rushed and altered to deal with the complications at hand.

JPR, who directed Sarath Kumar in Chennayil Oru Naal 2, based on crime writer Rajesh Kumar’s novel, has made this film along with Sham Surya. The director had revealed that Agni Devi too has certain parts which have been adapted from one of Rajesh Kumar’s novels.

The film begins with a prologue - the 1991 riots that followed Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. Soon after, it jumps to the present day when Bobby Simha is wheeled into the ICU of a hospital in a critical condition. 

We're then taken to a few days before this, when a daylight stabbing that looks eerily similar to the real-life Swathi murder case takes place. A young reporter is stabbed to death at a crowded bus stand and Bobby Simha, who plays Agni Dev IPS, reaches the crime spot. Soon after, a close friend of the deceased who holds the clue to her death is murdered, even as Agni investigates her.

With this, the plot thickens and Agni finds all doors closed to him. Who is behind these killings and how Agni gets to them forms the rest of the story.

Sathish, who plays Agni’s aide, comes up with dry and flat one-liners and is quite forgettable. Remya Nambeessan is wasted in an underwritten character. She plays Agni’s estranged wife who still harbours feelings for him. Hers is a blink and miss journalist role, written in merely for convenience.

Actor Madhoobala, who has regaled us as the charming young woman in many films, plays a wheelchair-bound, foul-mouthed politician Shakuntala Devi. Her character has an uncanny resemblance to a certain ‘small mother’ Tamil Nadu knows all too well. While Shakuntala Devi is quite evidently modelled to look and speak like the now-behind-bars politician, one might have hoped for better references to the character. In that sense, this is a watered down opportunity. 

Her introduction scene focuses first on her distinctive bindhi and then on the men falling flat at her feet, following which she rants about her rags to riches story. Madhoobala does a great job with her mannerisms, convincing us of her greed and arrogance.

The storyline that follows the arrest of a young man in connection to the stabbing and his false implication, is made all the more annoying by the use of the melodramatic violin with a repetitive melody in the background.

While the first half has a few elements of a good thriller, we lose interest the minute an incredulous back-story is narrated. None of it falls into place and the story travels down a cliched path.

Bobby Simha’s characterisation as a cop is inconsistent. He's sometimes believable and looks half-hearted at other times. While Madhoobala’s portrayal of the antagonist is memorable, she can salvage little of this story that hurtles to the pits. The climax and the reference the director makes to the riots we saw at the very beginning lack originality.

Agni Devi looks promising for about 10 minutes and then goes steadily haywire after that - is it no good because the actor walked out of the project or did he walk out because it was no good? We may never know. 

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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