Yutha Satham Movie Review: More noise, less substance
The actual case and the resolution of it definitely had the potential to be a gripping thriller, but the writing of Yutha Satham lets it down even without the semblance of a fight
At the halfway point of Yutha Satham, we are provided with the meaning behind the interesting title. Yutha Satham, which translates into War Noise, is about binaural music, and how it is a kind of intoxication that can turn people into addicts. I blame the present meme culture for immediately planting images of those YouTube playlists that are called "Yuvan Shankar Raja songs - Pain Drugs" or "Pradeep Kumar Mild Pain Drugs". I sincerely wish these were made-up names, but it is as true as the meme culture calls Yuvan Shankar Raja a drug dealer because his music is addictive. I went on to think of other such memes even as we are shown how Parthiban's Kathirvel, a no-nonsense cop, who is subject to this binaural music, finds himself in a trance. However, even a trippy Parthiban, letting his guard down, and swaying to an EDM track dropping some killer moves on the dance floor, couldn't distract me from my thought train. This inability to retain the audience's attention is the biggest drawback of this investigative thriller that marks Ezhil's first directorial since Saravanan Irukka Bayamen (2017).
Cast: Parthiban, Gautham Karthik, Saipriya Deva
The film, based on a Rajesh Kumar novel of the same name, begins with random aerial shots with even more random timestamps that add nothing to the film. Nevertheless, we see Kathirvel and his coterie of cops doing a routine check at night where they come across a Nakulan (Gautham Karthik) who is suspected to be drunk. Soon after, we come across Raghavi (Saipriya Deva) being murdered right outside a police station. Co-incidentally, the police station is under the control of Kathirvelu. Co-incidentally, Raghavi is Nakulan's girlfriend. Co-incidentally, Nakulan is a detective who gets roped into the investigation by Kathirvelu because well... I didn't really understand. Co-incidentally, at every turn of the investigation, Kathirvelu finds Nakulan to be the prime suspect, but the latter is never once questioned about his intentions, because well... I don't really know. To add to the never-ending series of coincidences, Yutha Satham doesn't even have a scene where we can doff our hat to the investigating skills of the protagonists. Almost every breakthrough is either a coincidence or employs an archaic plot device. Do we really believe that Raghavi, a product of the digital age, with a boyfriend who is a detective, decides to keep a diary with all her "research"? And why are hidden cameras still the biggest weapon in the sleuthing armoury?
While the actual case and the resolution of it definitely had the potential to be a gripping thriller, the writing lets it down even without the semblance of a fight. Way before the final reveal of this whodunit, the makers decide to give the primary antagonists closeup shots that are the equivalent of how the 1960's-70s shone a bright red light on the faces of the villains. Once this disastrous move is done in the name of cleverly placing red herrings, there is very little that comes as redemption in Yutha Satham.
It is clear that Parthiban had a hoot saying some of the lines in Yutha Sutham, which are in his trademark style. His emotional turn, and the way his character develops work in favour of the film. But the presence of his junior officers, especially Robo Shankar, just adds to the irritation factor of the film. We have seen how certain cops are shown to be super intelligent by having bumbling cops around them. But Robo Shankar's perverted and imbecile cop, who just saunters around Kathirvelu, is just a criminal disservice to the uniform. Come on!
The loud background score by D Imman is uncharacteristic of the composer, who is otherwise in a purple patch. The presence of the romance portions and the songs (works as standalone tracks) are not just obstacles to the narration but is a spike strip that derails the narration so bad that it goes down a ravine and bursts into flames.
As we walk out of the theatre, we are in the dilemma if a lot was lost in translation or the addition of commercial elements diluted what was initially a solid thriller on paper. But the biggest mystery is how a film like this lacking in entertainment was made by Ezhil. It makes one ask... Whodunit, actually!