Almost a month before the film released, the makers of Kolaigaran did extensive promotions for it on Twitter. 20 different posters were released, paying tribute to some of the most successful Tamil thrillers we’ve seen so far - from Kamal’s Sigappu Rojakkal to the most recent Thadam were recalled in these posters with the tag line: "If you enjoyed XYZ film, then you’ll surely love Kolaigaran".
If the title wasn’t clear enough, the message from these posters rings loud and clear - Kolaigaran is a murder mystery, gear up for a mind-boggling thriller. But, does the film live up to this hype?
Kolaigaran, directed by Andrew Louis who gave us Leelai in 2012, begins with the black and white frame of an apartment complex and the sound of a woman screaming. Come to think of it, the sound of a woman screaming is always the high point in any thriller.
Soon, this woman is murdered and in the next scene, Arjun who plays Karthikeyan, an inspector, receives a call with a short message - “Prabhakaran has surrendered.” We are taken to the police station where Vijay Antony who plays Prabhakaran is seated. He’s asked why he did the murder. As he looks up the scene cuts to a… wait-for-it… a song!
Vijay Antony is distressed. He is singing ’Kollathey Kollathey Kollathey’ in the middle of the desert while the woman who died in the previous scene is dancing in flowy dresses.
But Kolaigaran does get better mainly because it has an interesting storyline. In the film’s credits, the makers have said that this film is loosely based on The Devotion of Suspect X, a 2005 Japanese novel that won critical acclaim and was rumoured to have inspired Drishyam. The novel has been adapted into films in different languages since and Kolaigaran takes the basic plot line from this story.
Prabhakaran and Dharani (Ashima Narwal) are neighbours. There’s a stalkerish, eerie vibe about Prabhakaran. He does not talk much, is employed at a construction site and lives alone in his flat - a character sketch that Vijay Antony eases into with elan. Actor Seetha plays Dharani’s mother.
A body turns up, strangled, skull smashed and half burnt, and Inspector Karthikeyan works out the clues that leads him to Dharani and her mother. Surely two women could not have committed the murder? He then has a hunch against Prabhakaran, the moody looking neighbour, and the film’s plot tightens from here on, leading us from one discovery to another.
Actor Nasser plays Karthikeyan’s mentor, a retired officer who volunteers to help him with the case. The murdered man is identified, his back story revealed but there’s a bigger secret tumbling out of Prabhakaran’s closet. While the police are convinced the women could not have murdered the man, they aren't completely ruled out.
If Prabhakarn has already confessed to the crime (from the first scene) what’s the suspense, you ask? Inspector Karthikeyan who does not entirely buy Prabhakaran’s cool demeanour believes there’s more to what he’s telling. Who murdered the man and how forms the rest of the narrative.
While there are a few intense moments, what the film lacks is a tight screenplay. Like the disappointment we face within the first ten minutes with the song placement or Prabhakaran’s backstory which comes across as the most unimaginative writing. The character Aradhana who appears in this flashback reminds us of another Aradhana from another thriller which also had a cop losing his wife to vengeance. The film’s background score reminds us of the chilling score we heard in Ratsasan but feels out of place here.
With better writing and execution of the script, Kolaigaran might have been way better.
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.