Remember Keyser Soze and the Usual Suspects narrative? Stories within a story? Just when you think one mystery is resolved, another one opens up. Venkat Ramji takes Abburi Raviâ€™s script, based on the Hindi film Badla, and turns it into one of the finest crime thrillers to have come out in recent times.
The narration style itself is non-linear, with details revealed in bits, in circles, in patches as a conversation takes place between a hassled Sameera (Regina) and a street-smart but corrupt cop, Vikram (Adivi Sesh). Nevertheless, his varying intentions keep you on the edge. Between them is an open and shut murder case, with another high-ranking cop Ashok (Naveen Chandra) found dead.
The movie is fascinating for several reasons. Firstly, murder mysteries are always fun to watch, especially if they are intriguing and the writers make the audience run in circles without using regular tropes and cliches. A corrupt cop who would do anything for money makes for an excellent plot device in itself. It is entertaining to watch Vikram deal with Sameeraâ€™s story, one he obviously doesnâ€™t trust. He is a man who likes things to be under his control, someone who has done plenty of homework, before he confronts Sameera. Married to a secretive, gay and affluent husband, Sameera has a lot to lose, and Vikram seems to be the only one who could help her in her situation. There is an ethical dilemma burdening him, enter Adarsh, a young guy with cancer looking for his missing dad.
Buoyed by brilliant background music by Sricharan Pakala, a score which is a constant presence in the movie without eating up anything from the script, Evaru uses Coonoor (shot mostly in Kodaikanal though) to unravel the dark details of the murder mystery. Secondly, every time you think you have the details covered, something new turns up, and here, you wonâ€™t feel cheated, with new data/new events/divine intervention. It is still the same story, same evidence, spruced up with a little more truth, a new angle, a new perspective. Thirdly, you never know which detail is the truth, and which one fabricated. You wouldnâ€™t know who is the criminal and who is innocent.
Between Ashokâ€™s anger issues, Sameeraâ€™s dark secrets, Vikramâ€™s out-of-place brilliance, and more than one dead man, the story spirals deeper, right until the last moment. And you know you have watched a good movie, if you expect things to flip until the end. The movieâ€™s characters have different motives and it was fun to watch two different characters mouthing the same dialogues in two different narratives.
Regina is brilliant as Sameera/Sam, constantly switching between an innocent woman caught in circumstances and a conniving one who could be the answer to all the questions one would raise while investigating the murder. She has to portray a wide array of emotions, her countenance perfect for every situation. This is easily her best performance, for it is not easy to portray morally ambiguous women.
Adivi Sesh, is almost stoic in contrast, understated, and yet, so effective. He is probably one of the more underrated actors of our industry. It is incredible that he is stringing up a series of good movies - sleeper hit thrillers that give you a lot more than expected. Even here, he comes into his own after largely remaining on the sidelines in the early part of the movie. Naveen Chandra too, shows what a fine, spontaneous actor he is, raw impulse and villainy in his role done thoroughly.
Finally, the movie deserves applause for the production values - aesthetic settings, good acting, eye-pleasing camera work and a no-nonsense take on things /design /decor /surroundings. It says a lot that there are no wasted scenes, no unnecessary frames, literally, no unnecessary dialogues, and no crude jokes. You get what you sign up for, and thatâ€™s satisfying.
A lot can be written about Evaru, but unfortunately crime thrillers lose out on praise because the ones who enjoyed them cannot really extol them wholeheartedly, lest the readers lose the suspense after stumbling on a vague spoiler. Suffice to say, it is a movie that will probably only come once in a year or two, and should not be missed!
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.