A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam

Cast: Livingston, Maheswari, Lakshmi, Bhanuprakash
Music: Aadhityan
Direction: K.Rajeshwer

Horror movies have not occupied a particularly hallowed place in tamil cinema. Most of the offerings in this genre have been cheap, dubbed flicks with the cliched storyline of a ghost taking revenge, being nothing more than a clothesline for hanging sex scenes. Thankfully, Adhey Manidhan does not fall into this category. But though director Rajeshwer has selected a sparsely populated genre and tackled it the right way, he does not possess the right tools to fashion an effective horror movie. While not really bad, the movie is never scary or thrilling because of a poorly constructed screenplay that never picks up the tempo.

But the director must be commended for avoiding many of the common pitfalls that accompany such horror offerings. Sure all the staple horror movie elements like strange noises, a house in ruins, white curtains blowing in the breeze, etc. are there. But the movie itself is quite slick and does not rely upon amateurish special effects(though the lack of a substantial budget might have had something to do with this) or "boo!" moments to induce scares. He shows skill in building up the story and setting the stage for the horrors. It is the implementation from then that is rather disappointing.

Mandhiramoorthy(Livingston), a medical representative, is all set to get married. But a few days before the wedding, his lover Bhagavathy(Lakshmi) shows up at his doorstep. It turns out that on one of his out-of-town trips, Mandhiramoorthy had fallen in love with her. But because of a pressing need for money, he has agreed to marry Bhavani, a rich girl. He admits Bhagavathy into his house with the promise of marrying her and then kills her. His stepmother and his sister are witnesses to his act but shockingly, they help him dispose off the body. So Mandhiramoorthy marries Bhavani(Maheswari) but happenings from then on make him suspect that Bhavani is being haunted by Bhagavathy's spirit.

The first half of Adhey Manidhan is quite absorbing. The director shows his mettle in a few key scenes during this portion. The scene where Livingston seduces Lakshmi is picturised well(the shot of Lakshmi's reflection in the water, surrounded by a circle of lotuses is exquisite). The same goes for the scene where he kills her. The MO is quite brutal and the way it has been picturised shows skill. The following scene where he, alongwith his stepmom and his sister, disposes the body is also creepy. At the same time, some of the attempts to introduce scares are artificial and don't work. One example is the scene where Livingston goes to collect his wedding photograph. The professional photographer seems to live in a kind of place that would make any ghost proud! And his dire proclamations about the photographs raise our anticipation only to end in a damp squib.

The movie turns into a regular ghost story after his marriage. Unfortunately, it is not a scary ghost story. The screenplay is constructed rather sloppily from here onwards. The unhurried pace suits the earlier portions where we get to know the key players. But as the movie nears the climax, the pace remains painfully slow. Scenes(like the one where Livingston walks up the stairs to investigate strange noises) extend so long that we shift from anticipation to disinterest. This spoils the effect of the revelation that usually follows the slow build up. The slow pacing also has the effect of highlighting the glaring inconsistencies that abound. There is one very surprising twist but it is a case of too little too late.

Livingston seems rather ill-suited for the role. He doesn't exhibit the range of emotions that are necessary for the role of the guilty man with a conscience. His facial expressions are almost comical at many places and so we tend to laugh at him rather than be scared along with him. Maheswari has little to do other than walk around like a zombie and she does that well enough. But Lakshmi acquits herself rather well in the role of the lover. Adithyan provides a suitable background score and the songs sound melodious too.

Tamil cinema rarely steps out of established conventions and tried and tested formulae. Horror is one genre in which there is a lot of unexplored oppurtunities. While Adhey Manidhan can be praised for taking a step into this area, a more worthwhile entry might have been successful in encouraging more filmmakers to experiment with this genre.

Hosted by