Kolaiyuthir Kaalam Movie Review: A textbook example on how not to make a slasher flick
Nayanthara is the only saving grace of this remake which is filled with lazy filmmaking
Films these days are rarely really good or really bad, most fall in the that-wasn't-bad category. It's not often we walk out of a theatre wondering, "Wow, what was that?" Nayanthara-starrer Kolaiyuthir Kaalam, that was finally released this week, after missing a lot of promised release dates, made me say exactly that, and for all the wrong reasons.
Cast: Nayanthara, Pratap Pothen, Bhumika Chawla, Rohini Hattangadi
Director: Chakri Toleti
Hollywood slasher films usually have a template that goes something like this: a group of people land up at a random building in the middle of nowhere, followed by a masked killer who takes down the unsuspecting people one after the other. Hush (2016) was one of the very few films that strayed away from this template, and revolved around just one character — a deaf-mute woman. The murders were replaced by a nail-biting cat-and-mouse chase to great effect in Hush. So I obviously had a few expectations going into Kolaiyuthir Kaalam, a remake of that film.
Kolaiyuthir Kaalam's protagonist, Shruthi Lawson (Nayanthara, the only silver lining of this film), is an orphan who was adopted as a child by a wealthy Abha Lawson. With Abha passing away, her wealth, including a mansion in Sussex, UK, becomes Nayanthara's property. Remember the age-old trope of family members being mean and selfish when it comes to 'sothu thagararu'? Director Chakri Toleti has blown the dust off that trope and brought it back to us here.
The film starts with a weird voiceover that tells us the story of Shruthi, the new heiress, who has just landed in the UK after the death of her adopted mother. But this doesn't spare us from a flashback of how our little Shruthi won the heart of Abha. The child who plays the younger Shruthi has a mole above her lip similar to Nayanthara, and we only wish the rest of the film paid such attention to detail.
In the Hindi version, Khamoshi, starring Tamannaah and Prabhudheva, the latter's character is the one who goes on a killing spree after his mother chooses an orphan over him. But the villain in Kolaiyuthir Kaalam is an unknown assailant, wearing a grim reaper-like costume and a mask that looks like it was stolen from the sets of Krrish. The stakes thus never feel high.
Toleti has previously proved his mettle in directing a remake with Kamal's Unnaipol Oruvan. And this only makes Kolaiyuthir Kaalam feel even more disappointing. The tropes don't stop with just the selfish relatives. We're shown a hedge maze early in the film which means we're sure to see that once again later at a crucial phase. There's also the classic 'car won't start while being chased by a killer' scene, and of course, the same car starts when it's turned on by the killer.
While we're at it, the antagonist seems to be quite a hungry man as well. In a gruelling sequence, while chasing Shruthi, he calmly devours a banana and in another scene, he wipes the blood off a spoon and eats the food made for her. Not only is Shruthi running for her dear life, but she's also doing it on an empty tummy.
Veterans such as Pratap Pothen and Rohini are wasted in roles that are nothing more than glorified cameos. Using photoshopped images in the name of artworks made by Shruthi and a white stunt double with a completely different hairdo from her, are just some of the many sequences which shout lazy filmmaking. Add to all this the loud and jarring background score.
Nayanthara is the only saving grace of the film, and having already played a deaf person in Naanum Rowdy Dhaan, she looks close to perfect as the vulnerable and helpless Shruthi. And yet, it is hard for us to root for Shruthi who remains clueless till the very end. As clueless as we are about why this remake was made in the first place.