Ira grabbed the headlines even before its release because of the marketing strategy adopted by the team. Calling it 'Story of an accused' and deliberately drawing similarities to the Malayalam actor abduction and assault case, the film managed to grab eyeballs by generating speculation.That it opens with thanking Dileep, who is accused of being the mastermind behind the conspiracy which led to the assault, only adds to the discomfort.
However, despite the despicable promo activities which capitalised on a case that is sub judice, the film mercifully steers clear of it beyond taking a few potshots aimed at gathering whistles from a certain section of the audience. The 'conspiracy' at hand is the murder of a corrupt minister named Chandy (Alencier). The accused is Dr Aryan (Gokul Suresh), a fresh-faced orphan who is framed for the crime. Unni Mukundan plays Rajeev, the cop who is investigating the case, with plenty of opportunity to showcase his machismo.
Debut director Saiju SS constructs a plot with many layers - it's wrapped up one inside the other like an onion. This is a decent attempt. However, not all of it is convincing. Some "twists" are rather tough to buy and since the plot relies on these heavily, the suspense doesn't last till the end.
The villains in the film are presented to us as ruthless and crafty, yet they overlook some glaring details that would have helped them cover their tracks. For instance, the identity of the character Miya plays is obvious to all but the villains, it would seem. It takes them ages to catch up and you're left wondering why.
Tribals only exist in Indian cinema to be exploited and Ira persists with the stereotyping. They need an outsider to act as their 'saviour' and have no agency whatsoever. The film only treats them as part of the landscape, so much so that Rajeev has an entire conversation with his subordinate about the need to disguise their real identity in the forest land, right in front of some tribal people on a boat. What was the point?
While the short run-time and the fast pace work to the film's advantage, some attention to fleshing out the characters would have helped greatly. We barely know anything about people and their motives beyond what is spelt out explicitly. The reveals, therefore, come in verbose dialogues which look stagey. The attempt to make comedy out of workplace sexual harassment falls flat - and why such garish make-up for the ladies?
There's yet another similarity that one can draw to Dileep's personal life, other than the case. A daughter who rejects her mother because the latter chose a divorce. But the resolution to this conflict is rather surprising.
Gopi Sunder's background score is unnecessarily loud. There's not a silent frame in the film and one gets the feeling that the composer has overdone it in his attempt to add to the "thrills".
Ira is a watchable crime thriller - it would have benefited from a better script which relied more on showing than telling. And telling it so elaborately at that.
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.