Drohi Movie Review:
Star-casts: Srikanth, Vishnu, Poorna, Poonam Bajwa and others
Production: Mano Akkineni
Camera: Alphonse Roy
Kudos to Sudha K Prasad, assistant of Mani Ratnam for actually choosing a fairly difficult terrain for her debut movie. Having acquired the traits of her mentor Manirathnam, Sudha strikes with a different show, something far away from usual handpick genres of women filmmakers in Kollywood: blood, lust, and betrayal among rival goons and their henchmen in the belly of Chennai, aka Royapuram at all, is no easy task.
She has managed to pull it off by making an engrossing action packed film with some electrifying stunt scenes superbly shot by cinematographer Alphonse Roy and smartly edited by Sreekar Prasad. The all-women team of producers Mano Akkineni and Jaya Kalyana can be proud of their slick two-hour action drama.
The story is set in the badlands of Royapuram in North Chennai. The film begins with fair, tousle-haired Sami (Srikanth) lying trussed up like a fowl on railway tracks, shuddering every time a train rushes past.
There are 21 trains that will pass by during the night, and one of them will run right over him. He does not know which, though, leading to his dying a thousand deaths every time a train screeches.
A horrible way to die, especially at the hands of your best friend.
Cue to a flashback, and these are the heaviest sections of the film: in the seedier section of Chennai grow up two boys — Sami(Srikanth) and Karuna(Vishnu); Samy is tough as nails and violent by nature, while Karuna is a softie, over-dependent on his friend and will do anything for him. One day they see their class teacher Roja (Pooja) brutally murdered in the class room by a local thug for reporting on their nefarious activities to the authorities; and Sami and Karuna are the only witnesses.
In a fit of revenge-taking spree, Karuna commits his first crime; he slashes the throat of Roja’s assassin, but fate has other plans; they’re caught. And here, he gets his first taste of betrayal: Karuna blurts the truth about him to the police. They are left scot free thanks to a local politician, but from that day, Samy hates Karuna as he thought his friend squealed on him.
From here on, it’s a mad cat-and-mouse game: neither the grown-up Sami, nor Karuna (Vishnu) can stand the sight of each other. Sami grows up to be the right-hand man of local bad-man Narayanan (Thyagarajan), while Karuna, in a weird twist of fate, is working hard for his IPS exams.
The two snipe at each other whenever they can, finding ways to outwit each at every opportunity. There are quite a few Agni Natchathiram-like confrontations, involving short, staccato dialogues, montages, close-ups – and romance follows suit.
Meanwhile Sami is wooed in earnest by a remarkably bold girl Malar (Poorna), sister of Karuna who wears cholis and skirts reminiscent of Heera’s costumes in Thiruda Thiruda. And Sruti (Poonam Bajwa) is madly in love with Karuna.
A series of incidents drive them further apart, till a twist happens on a railway track. For a film directed by a woman director, there is a lot of blood and violence, which is sort of justified by the gritty theme.
For Srikanth, it is a comeback of sorts and he does a decent job, as he has put his best ever performance. He shines when he says those soliloquies tied up and left on the railway track, as every approaching train sounds his death bell. Vishnu in comparison has the lighter lover boy role, which he does with elan.
Vishnu, by contrast, has proven that he’s capable of performing roles such as these with élan. He’s bulked up and looks convincing as a cop — but it’s the mischievous sparkle in his eyes when he’s putting one over his nemesis that shows his real potential. As Karuna, once-betrayed, still hurting, and then devastated, he’s impressive.
Among the ladies, it is Pooja (Cameo) who steals the show as the upright school teacher. Poorna and Poonam Bajwa have hardly anything to do than singing the songs. After a long time, Thyagarajan looks composed and collected on-screen. Thyagarajan is menacing as the gangster.
S P Charan manages to look funny. The rest of the cast, comprising largely of bad guys, look the part. Selvaganesh’s background score is adequate; among the songs, Konjam Konjam Vendum stays with you.
Topline work is elicited from cameraman Alphonse Roy, whose close up shots highlight the agony of the characters, while art director Rajeevan’s sets has made it look so realistic. The action scenes choreographed by Dhilip Subbarayan is awesome especially the climax fight between the lead actors.
If you want to nit pick, you can say there is no comedy in the film. The entire film revolves around the two male leads, which at times become a bit dreary. Sudha has succeeded to a certain extent with the action theme, but the film could have been better with a more focused and to- the-point screenplay.
Srikkanth and Vishnu’s acting
Thiyagarajan is menacing as ganster
Rajeevan’s art – is definitely a plus.
Alphonse Roy’s cinematography
0% comedy – The film lacks the essence of Love and 0% comedy. Not to blame the debutant filmmaker as she has done a confident job. Adding humor would have been a spoiler. But then, romantic dosage should have been better.
Not convincing Dialog Delivery: The dialogues, undoubtedly meant to be a strength, do not sound convincing. The dialect is present, and so are plenty of cuss-words, appropriately bleeped out, but the impact is missing.
Impact of Mani Ratnam’s films: Many scenes remind you of this or that confrontation in some Mani Ratnam movie; some twists do make you sit up, but the impact is lost.
Nefarious goons, wretched friendship, sodomy, murder and lawlessness are at the heart of Drohi. A tight rope walk for Sudha since the subject is a double-edged sword. While she has effectively done the portrayal of two lives amidst wretchedness, she has failed to balance it out with a more purposeful screenplay.