If Vennela 1 1/2 was more loud and lewd than anything of the nature of 'vennela' and Avunu was more lecherous than scary, Charulatha is more emotional than horrific. The film begins ordinarily, moves sluggishly, but becomes emotional in the second half. The lack of sentimentality and the lacklustre proceedings test your patience in the first half but later the film really comes into its own, the real twist comes somewhere in the middle of the better half. The way the film becomes edge-of-seat makes for what we missed in the first half. A must-watch second half and, of course, the brilliant Priyamani both become the saving graces.
Since it is inspired by a Thai film (Alone), the story and some of the scenes do look unsentimental. As the film is over, surprisingly, you feel that Charulatha is only differently sentimental. It would have not been inappropriate for the director to make us cry, the content offers the scope, but he wittingly or unwittingly keeps it measured and cleverly deprives it of heavy dose scenes.
This is not to say that Charulatha is perfect. In fact, it has a few unpardonable flaws, the most important one being the tempo is not rightly build for the flashback episodes. The background score is insensitive in the first half. The narration is wrongly embellished with Kannada-style comedy which doesn't gel with the mood. It is very easy to sift the wheat from the chaff, the quality scenes lifted from Alone can be easily separated from the drab Ponnukumaran scenes. The psychiatrist's role is unnecessarily stretched, the hospital scenes look tedious. Technique is found wanting in some scenes. The scene where Priyamani walks down the stairs seductively is a misfit. Above all, the dialogues lack intelligence, however adequate they may have been in crucial scenes.
Some might complain that the rapport between Charu and Latha lacked an emotional touch, but the narrative style was different, and not defective. The film becomes sensitive gradually and without all the routine melodrama, it feels intense.
One of the twins comes to live in her ancestral home, where she grew as a conjoined twin. The other twin, now dead, lurks in the same palatial building. The reason for the ghost's revisit becomes clear because of the other twin's knowledge of the fact that she is there to "kill me."
The short but impactful scenes involving the two Priyamanis (especially the scene where Charu begs Latha to let her meet Ravi is quite touching), their conversations are typically un-Indian. The film may have enticed a Bollywood director rather than a Southern filmmaker. Without embellishing the narrative with loudly mawkish scenes, the director succeeds in making us sympathise with the plight of Charu and Latha.
Priyamani's performance stands out as the best one. She is modest, minimalist and natural. Both as the million-dollar smily Charu and the jealous Latha (watch her say to her twin, 'Entey Latha'), she is satisfactory. Debutante Skandha's looks are better than his acting. He should work on his expressions. Sharanya is a wrong choice. Yesteryear actress Seetha was ok in the psychiatrist's role.
Sundar C Babu's music picks up in the second half. Panner Selvam's cinematography is up-to-the-mark, while the sound effects are apt in many scenes.
Released on: 21st Sep, 2012