It is quite easy to dismiss director Maruthupandiyan’s Asuravadham as just another revenge drama. In fact, the story has been done to death in Tamil cinema. The backstory doesn’t take you by surprise either. But the director wins with the execution by using a very gripping narrative technique. In that sense, the first half is the best half of the film.
The story begins with debutant Vasumithra who plays Samayam, a local shopkeeper. Just three minutes into the film, the director gets our hearts racing with a mysterious phone call. Early on, we also get an idea of Samaya’s chauvinism and tendency towards lechery.
Sasikumar plays the mysterious man who’s on to Samayam. In fact, we get to know his name only towards the end. He trails him like a shadow and the chase scene down the narrow alleys of Madurai have been done very well.
The film takes upon shades of a psychological thriller at this point. However, Samayam’s paranoia has been underplayed, an opportunity that could’ve increased the intensity of the suspense.
Another let-down is that the women characters haven't been utilised well. While it is obvious that the hunt happens only because of an injustice meted out to some woman in Sasikumar’s life, the inclusion of a more substantial woman character would’ve lifted the story. Lacking this, the film slips once again with a loosely put flashback.
The second half is predictable and Asuravadham loses its pace here. With the suspense element slipping away quickly, the film fumbles from here on. It is unfortunate that the director chose to handle the backstory with lesser care than he had for the first half.
Thankfully, Sasikumar who’s known for his lengthy dialogues, has very few lines in this film. While you know Sasikumar is no superhuman in the first half, things get a little unreal as the film progresses.
Newcomer Vasumithra has done a convincing job as Samayam. It might have been quite a challenge to deliver ‘dai, yaara nee?’ in so many different modulations.
Namo Narayanan provides light comic relief in the film’s first half. The stunt sequences, especially the one inside the shady hotel, have been done extremely well. The other towards the climax on top of the hill is another good sequence. The ones with the guns, however, are a little unrealistic. Govind Menon's music is evocative.
Cinematography deserves a special mention in this film. The scenes in the dark have been well executed. Actor Nanditha Swetha who plays Sasikumar’s wife has no big role in this film. On the whole, Asuravadham is a gripping revenge drama that fails to sustain the tempo of its first half.
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.