Iravukku Aayiram Kangal Review: A well-written racy mystery
A thrilling murder mystery that is aided by its large supporting cast
Arulnidhi has over the years built his repertoire meticulously to the point that the audiences implicitly trust his choices. Iravukku Aayiram Kangal is the latest in his impressive filmography. At its heart, it is a simple murder mystery but the sheer number of characters and the range of motives at play make you wonder if it is straight out of an Agatha Christie novel. In its style and execution, though, it resembles one of Rajeshkumar's dynamite pocket novels. This isn't a knock on the film per se because the author knew the audience he catered to, and one of the prime reasons why the pocket novel was a craze was because it was racy, thrilling, short and provided an escape from the monotonous life with no heavy commentary - something which your modern commercial film strives to do also. And to a large extent, Iravukku... does this.
Cast: Arulnidhi, Mahima Nambiar, Vidya Pradeep, Ajmal, Anandraj
Bharath (Arulnidhi) is a taxi driver in a relationship with nurse Sushila (Mahima Nambiar), and they are looking to get married with her father's consent. One day, when she is in a cab as the last drop, the cab driver misbehaves with her, and Ganesh (Ajmal) appears as her saviour. But little does she know that the latter heads a three-member team consisting of Anita (Vidya Pradeep) and Maaya (Suja Varunee), who extort people. Meanwhile, there is Roopali (Chaya Singh) who is stuck in an unhappy marriage with Vasanth (John Vijay). She has a problem with Ganesh. Murugesan (Anandraj) is an old industrialist who is looking for female company. He has been swindled by Ganesh. Lakshmy Ramakrishnan's Vyjyanthi is a mystery writer who has written 49 novels, each of which has been read exhaustively by Bharath.
Once all these characters are introduced and their interconnected stories are established, a conflict is introduced in the form of a murder and all hell breaks loose. While Arulnidhi and Ajmal are clearly meant to be the hero and the villain, respectively, Iravukku...'s success comes from the fact that every single one of these characters has a motive to commit the murder. A murder mystery like this needs a strong supporting cast to add weight to the story and Iravukku... scores well in that department. The director also has cleverly used his writing to zoom out of the story and add layers where needed especially when he is introducing an as-yet-unseen character. Mahima Nambiar delivers a strong performance, while Anandraj steals almost every scene he appears in.
But the problem with the film, is that the second half cannot match the pace of the first. The film is weighed down towards the end, rather unsurprisingly, by the absence of closure for all the characters and their motives. It is at this point that you are a bit exasperated and just want the film to end because you are afraid that, given the number of twists, the film might be in danger of tying itself up into a knot. The payoff is also underwhelming until the last five minutes when the film delivers the punch to end all punches with a twin climax that teases a potential sequel. That bait and switch, at first glance a bit contrived, in hindsight places itself well in the larger story.
There is a wonderfully written scene in the middle of the film when Vyjayanthi has a cop come over and tell her all about the murder and the mystery surrounding it. At this point the cop gets a phone call, whose content is correctly guessed by Vyjayanthi. She brushes it off with a flimsy reason, but you get to know her intellectual prowess as the film progresses. At that point, I realised that if there is an Agatha Christie character that would suit our audiences, it is Miss Marple, and what would I not give to watch Lakshmy Ramakrishnan take up such a role and for that to be franchise on its own.