The Lady Superstar is in fine form but the film could have been better.

Review Dora has its thrills but is let down by a weak climax
Flix Kollywood Friday, March 31, 2017 - 17:38

Nayanthara stands above her contemporaries in more ways than one. It reflects in the way she picks her scripts. She stars in fluffy entertainers such as Idhu Kathirvelan Kadhal and Nannbenda; in a leading role in which her character brings the roof down with her quirks and cries – Naanum Rowdy Dhaan; and in films where the needle of narration moves in her direction – Maya and Dora.

By giving her the label, ‘Lady Superstar’, makers have now begun to spin stories around her strengths. 

Fittingly, when Nayanthara throws a challenge at her aunt and uncle for disrespecting her father, traces of music from Superstar Rajinikanth’s Annamalai play on. In another confrontation scene, she’s being interrogated by a police officer (Harish Uthaman); here, she channels her inner Vikram from Anniyan. These touches are given to show that she’s reached the heights of superstardom. That she can pull the crowds to the theatres. That she can singlehandedly headline a Tamil film. Lo and behold, she does it pretty well (if whistles, claps, and screams for an actor’s on screen entry are a measure for popularity, then, Nayanthara has surely achieved it).

Dora serves a dual-purpose. It’s a crime drama and a horror thriller rolled into one. Its intentions swerve to the former more, but, its restless soul ends up walking away as a horror-fest.

The film opens with the gruesome rape and murder of a woman. Harish Uthaman is given the task of nabbing the attackers. He certainly looks like a man who knows his job. He goes about shouting and giving orders to his subordinates. On the sidelines, Nayanthara, who is named Pavalakkodi, purchases a second-hand (antique) car with which she plans to run a taxicab service. These two storylines intermingle and, nearly an hour into the movie, the latter takes center-stage.

Sparks of brilliance appear here and there. Nayanthara is seen in a hospital bed in the first scene. We quickly learn that her condition is serious. The reason for her hospitalisation is revealed only much later (in a flashback episode). The backstory gives us a moment to sympathise with her. And this helps us in understanding the graph of the movie better.

In the same emotionally-tinged flashback, we’re told why the antique car behaves the way it does. This show of intelligence, however, isn’t sprinkled entirely.

As all the ghost movies in Tamil cinema go, Dora, too, suffers from clichés. The biggest culprit would be the climax. The ending sort of invokes the spirit of the Ramya Krishnan – Soundarya starrer Amman, and several other devotional films from the 90s. This totally puts a spoke in the wheel of the movie’s goodness factor. Likewise, in wanting to add a shade of laughs to the thriller, Thambi Ramaiah clowns around with his one-liners and comic bits. Also, Harish Uthaman’s character disappears after a point.

Dora isn’t free from rough edges. Nonetheless, Nayanthara’s fine form serves as a staircase to elevate the movie.

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