Dora: All smoke and talk without the torque
Cast : Nayanthara, Thambi Ramaiah
Director : Doss Ramasamy
There was a lot of expectation riding on Dora - blame it on how much of an impact Nayanthara made in Maya. Unfortunately, Dora simply isn’t in the same league (or garage, if we’re going to use car puns). The 136 minute film that shuns the need for a love interest and unnecessary characters, starts off promisingly and runs like a well-kept Ambassador till the interval. After that pit stop, the ride gets bumpy – teetering along jerkily until the engine finally packs in and all that’s left is for you to call an uber.
Nayanthara plays Pavalakodi, a headstrong young woman who has a penchant for making grandiose challenges everything someone ticks her off. When her uncle and aunt refuse them a free ride in their call taxi, the father-daughter duo decide to start their own taxi service – so they scrimp and scrounge and head to the car dealership where Nayan is drawn to an old Austin Cambridge that spookily calls to her via wind crime effects and spooky sounds. Nayanthara is refined, cute, funny when she needs to be and looks petrified during the scary scenes. Despite the script, decidedly a win for her as an actress.
Which brings us to Thambi Ramaiah, who plays Nayanthara’s doting, bumbling, self-sacrificing father Vairakannu. Is there a finer actor today in south cinema who can play as many different characters with such elan, such precision, display such a range of emotions, be so absolutely comic in every situation without seeming obtrusive? Perhaps. But there will always be only one Thambi Ramaiah. And it is a delight to watch him in Dora. It’s also a pity that he is relegated to a corner as the story gets ‘serious’ – it might have been a lot better if they’d let him continue in the same vein.
What’s truly irksome about Dora is that, as a script, it has tons of potential. How many other canine-car-horror movies do you know of? It’s just that the reveals, those moments that you wait for just so that you can be overwhelmed and go ‘woah, did not see THAT coming’, are so weak and impactless that it’s nothing short of criminal. That’s precisely what transformed Maya from a regular horror flick into the refined, well made film that it was. Doss Ramasamy will possibly look back and wonder if they’d been a little too unromantic at the editing table.
Otherwise, the cinematography is great, some of the frames are incredibly shot - especially those involving Nayanthara at a weird ancestral temple in the middle of nowhere in the dead of night. The music works for the most part. The VFX team deserve a pat on the back, considering they’ve probably made this movie on a tight budget.
When you’re through watching Dora, possibly the only horror film in recent history to not feature ghouls, banshee and their ilk, you will ask yourself why on earth the censor board chose to slap the Nayanthara-starrer with an A certificate.