'Radio' that starts off on a promising note, does not however turn out into the dark tale of crushed dreams that you expect it to be. The efforts to be serious about what it has to tell are certainly there, but it's quite lethargic when it comes to unspooling its plot, thereby adding itself to the list of films that could have been right there on top, but unfortunately isn't.
Priya (Sarayu) has a family to look after, when she lands in a city and earns a job as a sales girl at a jewelry. With no place to stay, she is offered refuge by her colleague Shwetha (Iniya), who lives in a plush flat at the center of the city. Priya is soon to realize that not everything is as it seems, and that Shwetha has slept her way to the eleventh floor of her apartment.
Stories of the flesh trade, and those induced into it by the lure of money, have made interesting viewing material when adapted on to the screen, but at some point, they need to offer the viewer something new; a fresh perspective perhaps that could make them think and reanalyze what they have seen before. Nothing of the sort occurs in 'Radio', and it's here that the film falters.
On the one hand, the film adopts a moralistic stand, and states affirmedly through Shwetha that a body is all that a hapless woman has, to move forward in life. You almost believe that she is convinced of what she is talking about, and then realize that she is a confused individual who does not have a clue as to how to set things right yet again in her life.
Priya is perhaps a bit more stable, since she is witness to the breakdown in Shwetha's life, and makes her choices assuredly and with confidence. He entry into the her new found business is cautious, but once in she is resolved to move ahead, irrespective of the setbacks that assail her from all around. She does lose her identity in the process and yet struggles to keep her head high above the waters.
The call girl culture that has wordlessly engraved itself into the nights of our metropolitan cities receives an expression through 'Radio'. However, the film remains a bit too much concerned on several issues, ranging from social activism to hartals, sexual abuse to the ever increasing psychotic tendencies of a population.
With its focus thus divided onto diverse aspects of the culture that it dwells on, it is able to persuasively comment on none of them. One such martyr in the hands of this distraction is the character of the psychiatrist played by Thalaivasal Vijay, who appears a patient himself. Attempts to delineate his character that is much lengthier than it truly deserves, turn out to be unintentionally amusing. He is totally lost to us, and ends up one of those characters that ruin a film beyond repair.
There are a few genuinely remarkable moments in the film as well, that appear like a streak of lightning on a cloudy night sky. These very odd occasions are however too limited, and do not serve to elevate the film to a higher plain.
A special word of appreciation for the both the leading actors - Iniya and Sarayu - who have come up with imposing performances, no doubt. This is a film that revolves entirely around these two young women, and they shoulder the responsibilities of convincingly conveying the trauma that they go through, with elan. Jayakrishnan, in a significant role, and Irshad leave a mark.
The significance of the title dawns on you on the very last scene, which is also one of the best scenes in the film. Even as the dwellers of a city continue with their mad rush to reach their destinations, the radio that has been spurting all along, crashes to the ground and breaks into a song. Life, despite all its odds will go on and the world irrespective of what me or you are going through will continue to exist.