March 28, 2019 5:35:58 pm
Airaa movie cast: Nayanthara, Kalaiarasan, Yogi Babu
Airaa movie director: Sarjun KM
Airaa movie rating: Two stars
Airaa checks every box in the list of horror cliches. A deserted bungalow. Screeches. Howls. Mysterious cats. Well-spaced silences. Lightning. Rains. But director Sarjun doesn’t want his audience to just experience the eeriness. He weaves an emotional story around it. Yamuna (Nayanthara), a journalist, decides to take a break from her job. Thanks to her parents who constantly nag her to get married. They even make their daughter meet someone, who thinks female journalists in media are ‘compromising’. Naturally, Yamuna doesn’t like him.
Not knowing how to deal with the situation, she leaves home and comes to her grandmother’s place, Pollachi, in order to start a YouTube channel. She thinks it is a successful business model that will fetch fame and money. So, she makes ‘fake ghost videos’ along with Mani (Yogi Babu) and turns into a sensation. The combination scenes between Yogi Babu and Nayanthara worked well in Kolamaavu Kokila, because of the writing. But that falls quite flat in Airaa. The comedian’s one-liners sound forced too.
There is a parallel track involving Amudhan (Kalaiyarasan), who witnesses a series of deaths. In what way Amudhan and Yamuna are connected forms the rest of the story. Sarjun goes a tad overboard with the detailing. The film takes too much time to build the atmosphere and shape a story. We could easily guess the film leads to the flashback from the initial portions.
In the second half, we get to know who Bhavani (Nayanthara again) is. The flashback portions have been shot beautifully in black and white. The tone of the film seemingly enhances every character’s performance. Kudos to cinematographer Sudarshan Srinivasan who has given a refreshing colour palette. When you are watching the film, do take note of the sinister exchanges of colour, light and darkness. His camera work effortlessly sweeps you to the vortex of horror.
Everything in the film is a chain reaction, and that is why you see butterflies all over. (The Butterfly Effect). In the beginning, Sarjun clearly establishes this in one road scene. But what doesn’t convince us is the two separate story tracks, which refuses to blend with each other. A spirit seeking vengeance isn’t a new idea, but that hasn’t been justified enough on the screen.
Airaa’s biggest strength is its background score. Music helps horror films to establish a mood, build tension and atmosphere. It pulls you in and pushes you away with starking contrasts. That’s when your subconscious mind starts to fill in the gaps — building up to the scary moment. KS Sundaramurthy has done a fabulous job on the music, in particular, “Meghadootham”. With that song, he creates a haunting melody that summarises the entire film in a few notes.
Nayanthara, in a deglamourised look, aces as Bhavani. Airaa is a full-on Nayanthara show with a great idea, not-so-great execution. The film, of course, has an interesting premise, which ‘Lady Superstar’ nails it, both in terms of style and performance.
Afterthoughts: Why would Tamil filmmakers consciously write unhappy dark-skinned female characters? Why can’t we have a happy dusky woman, who is unapologetically herself? Of course, the film industry isn’t so open to accepting women the way they are. And it is often portrayed if someone is dark, she brings in sufferings and misfortune to other’s lives.
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