'Arikil Oraal' is a hollow bauble that despite its decent start degenerates into a mundane thriller. The few exciting individual instances here and there are appealing, but the story lets you down tremendously.
Sidharth (Indrajith) is a happy man, with a dream job in advertising and a beautiful danseuse girlfriend Veena (Remya Nambeesan). When Veena introduces him to Ichaa (Nivin Pauly), a dear friend who works as a cafe help in the city, Sidharth doesn't think twice about him. Until Ichaa starts appearing at two events simultaneously.
The concept of a doppelganger has very rarely been explored in Malayalam cinema, and it does sound terrifically exhilarating. I was almost awestruck that someone had dared experiment with a paranormal phenomenon as this, and was all expectant about how it will be explored and how it will eventually turn out.
The initial suspense and dread that the film successfully builds up gives way to discontent in the latter half, as the elucidation that finally arrives holds little surprises. In fact, it almost seems like you had never expected it to turn out to be this simple, and even if this conclusion was always in sight, you had always hoped against hope that it wouldn't be as undemanding a wrapping up as it is.
What is disheartening is that the film fails to capitalize on its promising premise, and instead starts spinning around like a loud and out-of-control electric top. It goes round and round, sans any purpose, jumps in and out of ways and finally bangs its head against a wall before toppling down. I wouldn't call it dull but it isn't exactly attention grabbing either.
And at the end of it all, there are a few loose ends lying here and there as well. Ichaa gives a bunch of loudmouth customers a piece of his mind by twisting a metal fork and dropping it with a clang on to the table. The sense of logic makes an exit silently in a scene as this.
'Arikil Oraal' probably wants you not to look deeper for meaning into what's happening around. The plot however, is one such that prods you every now and then, to look beyond the surface level and unearth some real reasons behind the psychological horror that Sidharth and Veena are exposed to.
Probably, this is a film that is a victim of its own expectations. There is this mandatory twist in thrillers as these that ensures that the plot doesn't fall apart. And it's this twist that makes you open your mouth wide, but not out of surprise, but out of disillusionment.
Of the three performers, I liked Nivin Pauly the best, and especially noteworthy is the actor's performance in the scene where Sidharth asks him to wait outside, while he has a conversation with Veena. The coverlet of intrigue that Nivin drapes all around him makes Ichaa the most believable character of the three. Indrajith and Remya Nambeesan deliver competent performances as well.
The tautness that had made Sunil Ibrahim's debut film script interesting isn't there in 'Arikil Oraal'. It does try hard and does make some grandiose promises, but ultimately fails to deliver. Predictability could prove fatal to thrillers, and here is a classic example as to why it is.