Chennai, 29 Mar 2019 14:00 IST
Despite the effort taken to sell the horror angle, Airaa, featuring Nayanthara in dual roles, hardly makes an impact when we see it as a horror flick.
Sarjun KM’s Airaa (2019), which features Nayanthara in dual roles for the first time in her career, closely follows in the footsteps of her previous successful horror outings such as Maya (2015) and Dora (2017) to cash in on the success of the genre, but fails miserably in the process.
Even though it has all the horror clichés in the book – from creaking doors, to shadowy figures and mysterious cats and rains — it does not feature enough thrills to be a praiseworthy horror flick. However, the film does tug at our heartstrings with a strong emotional core which makes the otherwise boring film watchable.
When the film begins, we are introduced to Yamuna (Nayanthara), a journalist who isn’t happy with her job and is seriously considering taking a break. She wants to try her hand at starting a Youtube channel to deliver spicier content, but her boss is not in her favour.
At home, her parents are after her to get married, but she isn’t ready yet. Quite early on, she shuts a possible suitor who slut-shames her with a strong reply. When tired of her parents’ charades to get her married, she leaves home and goes to her grandmother’s palatial house in Pollachi where she decides to start a Youtube channel. She starts making fake ghost encounter videos and in no time they go viral, earning her overnight stardom.
As she goes on about making her videos, Yamuna realizes her house is actually haunted, and she meets Amudhan (Kalaiarasan) in the process of unraveling the mystery behind the paranormal presence in her house. What makes Yamuna and Amudhan cross paths and what’s common in their lives forms the crux of the story.
As an emotional drama, Airaa is far more convincing than a horror thriller. The emotional core loses its essence within the horror template and never works as effectively as it would if not made into a horror film. Despite the effort taken to sell the horror angle, Airaa hardly makes an impact when we see it as a horror flick. The silly climax is even more disappointing and makes the horror angle completely needless in the first place.
Nayanthara’s character as Yamuna hardly works and it’s quite evident in the way it has been written. It looks like the makers wanted to showcase both the star and actor side of Nayanthara and sadly the former’s side has very little to offer.
It’s in the flashback episode that Airaa really makes a strong impact. It introduces us to Bhavani, which is undoubtedly one of the most challenging characters Nayanthara has essayed in the recent past. The film makes us empathize with Bhavani, and one wonders why the world should be so cruel to her. Minutes after she’s born, her father dies after being struck by the lightning. Her own family doesn’t want her around and sees her as bad luck. The only person in whom she finds solace is Amudhan, who showers unconditional love and attention on her.
Nayanthara is terrific as Bhavani and she displays her acting chops in several scenes in the second half. Gabriella, who plays the younger version of Nayanthara, is equally terrific. Instead of relying on the horror angle, Airaa should’ve been built on this emotional core which is its biggest strength.
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