Directed by Sarjun KM, Airaa was vended effectively by the trailers as a horror film starring the Lady Superstar Nayanthara in a dual role. The film opens on a high in a bloodcurdling mansion, and an indistinct spirit banishes a couple of cops who were just present to ensure the safety of the residents. Spooling back three months earlier, the storyline commences with our lead character Yamuna (Nayanthara), an honest television reporter who decides to visit her grandmother’s hometown after being aggravated frequently by her parents to get married. Soon after entering the bungalow (mentioned earlier in the paragraph), things start to turn upside down when terrifying events transpire regularly. How is Yamuna associated with this horrifying cliché ghost forms the crux of the entire narrative.
“Horror is purely visual” – Director Sarjun KM
Sheltering his statement, Sarjun KM and his cinematographer Sudarshan Srinivasan photographed an attractive film with rich visuals and utilized the imposing setting of the interiors and the exteriors splendidly. The terrific use of the red tint and other vivid colors throughout the film reflects Sarjun’s creative imagination and the ability to film a visually appealing movie. Sundaramurthy’s background score also adds to the visuals and blends in with the vibe flawlessly.
But, the main and the primary focus of a horror film should always be the scary elements. Although the filmmaker succeeded in creating the tension optically, the suspense and the much needed otic components were completely missing. The process of building up a heart-pounding scene is a craft, and there are quite a few examples in Indian Cinema namely Vikram Kumar’s 13B or Ram Gopal Varma’s 1996 film Deyyam. Airaa falls flat when it comes to these crucial essentials and the storytelling technique of Sarjun and his screenwriter Priyanka Ravindran should be held liable for all the misfires.
Adding to the giant heap of screw-ups is the story, which is nothing but a simple revenge plot which we’ve seen a million times before. The first half of the film gets underway on a promising note with two storylines, one with Nayanthara’s primary character Yamuna, and the other with Kalaiyarasan’s character told parallelly. However, the gimmick wears out halfway through and starts to get annoying with quick cuts from one scene to another which in turn does no favors to the earlier point I’m arguing about, the suspense. The second half of the film introduces us to Bhavani, a character who advances the dramatic side of the narrative which is again spoiled by a standard conclusion. Nayanthara, on the other hand, had nothing to add and doesn’t spawn uniqueness to her role. We’ve seen her in such roles with similar characteristics and attributes before and watching her play a dual role for the first time in her prolific career, I should call it as a disappointment.
Overall, Airaa follows all the missteps which lead it to a horrible horror flick with a tedious storyline, zero suspense and abysmal or sometimes laughable scares. Although Sarjun possesses all the ability to present a visually stunning canvas with vivid colors and set design, he is nowhere near decent in telling a good story, which is where the film fails miserably.
Rating – 1.5/5 | Grade – D+