The posters and teaser of K-13 were intriguing enough to create the necessary buzz for an "Arulnithi film." Debutant Bharath Neelakantan has kicked off the turf with an enviable genre that is popular among the new breed of directors - 'smart thriller.' These smart thrillers are usually packaged with yuppy characters, an urbane appeal, sinister crimes, contemporary dialogues, and staging and most important of all, a short duration that is well under 2 hours.
I am not saying that this concoction always works, but from the sort of thrillers that have been hitting Kollywood since Karthik Subbaraj started the phenomenon with 'Pizza,' these are not blatantly being ground under the ax of movie buffs and critics as they do for that celebrity 'mass-masala'. That being the premise for this genre, let's see how 'smart' Bharath Neelakandan's K-13 is?
An aspiring director, Madhiyazhagan (Arulnithi) is lured by a writer, Malarvizhi (Shraddha Srinath) to her place when they meet at a pub (didn't I mention smart thrillers?). He wakes up taped to a chair and realizes that Malarvizhi has committed suicide by slitting her wrist. Unfathomable as it may seem, he realizes that he has ended up in this mess for a purpose, and, then, I leave it for the director to let me know on what he claims to be the 'twist.'
The first half had the usual commercial elements like a hero aspiring to become a director for a decade or so, him hanging out with his buddies, a pub song, boy meets girl and other such things. Then when the proceedings were supposed to gather pace, we are not offered enough thrills to invest ourselves.
Some moments built up to veer off tension and anxiety, but Arulnithi's below-par performance and lifeless emotions made it fall flat. Also, the scenes were quite repetitive wherein Arulnithi is made to jump from the house to the terrace and vice versa. He even freely moves between houses without being noticed by anyone.
Another setback for the story was the superfluous characters with shallow depth. 'Yogi' Babu who appeared as a courier boy was a mere commercial checkbox and others in the supporting roles were also sluggish. Even the lead characters - Arulnithi and Shraddha were not given enough character depth. So, when the 'supposed to be' twist comes in, we don't feel any impact and the twist by itself was quite confusing, and I am yet to understand it fully.
Sam CS has dished out average music that was enough to set the mood. The song that played when Arulnithi desperately tries to escape from the situation by manipulating evidence had a unique rendition and augured well for the moment. The camera work was nothing noteworthy, though the top angle shots from the terrace overlooking 20 stories should be mentioned only for the risky takes.
K-13 at the hands of debutant director Bharath Neelakantan comes across as an over-ambitious thriller that tries to punch above and beyond its weight but fails to get the basics right. Thrillers thrive on the narrative, even if the pace is terrible (a mention of 'Shining' was there during the course of the movie). However, when the proceedings appear to be dragging even if the duration is well under 2 hours, then, there is something seriously flawed!
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