Agni Devi Review: A confused mess
A film that makes you wonder how it got made in the first place
How often do you watch a film a day after the lead actor files a complaint against the director, claiming that he only shot for five days? Or find that the same actor has filed a petition asking for a stay order on ‘his’ film? The director, in defense, argues that it was the actor who didn’t cooperate and walked out after finishing most of the movie. "Irukaradhu vechu mudichom," were the words he used -- and that shows on screen, disturbingly so.
Director: JPR, Sham Surya
Cast: Madhoo, Bobby Simha, Ramya Nambeesan
I'm not just talking about the two action sequences where a body double has obviously been used. There are several inexplicable things about Agni Devi. Let me just stick to the ones on screen. For example, Agni Dev (Bobby Simha) deduces that a man and a woman are not siblings because he found contraception in the house. So the presence of a condom automatically indicates that they are having sex with each other? If that seems ‘complicated’, take this: why does Assistant Commissioner Agni Dev drive around in a jeep that has Nat Geo’s symbol? The film starts off saying that it is an adaptation of a Rajesh Kumar novel. Which one? We don’t know. Agni Devi doesn’t even get the basics right, let alone the nuances. In around 100 minutes, the film goes from being a whodunnit to a political drama to a social story to a revenge saga, with juvenile crime thrown in for effect. At the end of those 100 minutes, I truly understood what scientists mean when they say time is relative, something that years of education didn’t help me understand. I could have sworn I was in that theatre for a 100 hours at least.
The performances further aggravate our already tired brains. On the one hand, you have Bobby Simha whose reactions range from scowling at something to.. scowling at someone. And on the other, you have Madhoo who hams to high heaven as the ‘evil, ruthless politician’. Of course she needs to hate men and have a love for paan -- how else can women politicians function? There is a scene or two thrown in at times to prod our tear glands -- an innocent man is brutally beaten, a witness is poisoned to horrifying effect. And right on cue, we have Jakes Bejoy bringing out the melodramatic music, trying hard to make us feel something. But it does not work. Nothing really does.
There are films that infuriate you, ones that irritate. But Agni Devi pushed me into a zone of indifference. I couldn’t bring myself to even hate or mock it with a vengeance. All I could do was just wonder how the movie got made in the first place.