'Shivalinga', the Telugu-Tamil film, finally hits the screens today. Here is our review of the horror-crime thriller.
Raheem (Sakthivel Vasu) is a harmless cook whose biryani for special ceremonies is well-known. He is murdered during a train journey by a mysterious person. The police close the case registering it as a suicide. However, his lover Sangeetha doesn't believe in the version. On her insistence, the police transfer the case to the CBCID and the higher official of the department (Madhuvanthi) deputes an expert officer Shivalinga (Raghava Lawrence) to investigate the case.
Shivalinga marries Sathya (Ritika Singh) and the couple move to a new bungalow abutting a graveyard from where he starts investigating the murder.
A bloodied Sara, late Raheem's pet pigeon, gives some initial clues is a leitmotif. In no time, Sathya is possessed by Raheem’s spirit and it refuses to leave her until Shivalinga finds the murderer and punishes him.
By whom and why was Raheem murdered? Why does his spirit choose Sathya’s body? What is her connection with Raheem? Answers to these questions are revealed in the climax.
'Shivalinga' is P Vasu-meets-Lawrence Raghava kinda movie. You will find certain elements found in 'Chandramukhi' (investigator-occult collaboration, for eg) and you will also find certain of those seen in 'Kanchana' (mother-son comedy, for eg).
The idea of horror as far as Vasu and Raghava are concerned is that it's better to bank upon emotions rather than spook the audience to no end. The story is narrated in such a way that we feel for the victim(s), we root for justice, while also laughing when the ghost we sympathize with is funnily feared by some comedian (it's Vadivelu, again).
In the murder mystery plot, the script writer (Vasu) has worked hard to retain the suspense element till the end by bringing in so many characters and angles. But the reason for the murder revealed in the climax is weak and something that most of the regular movie watching audience would have predicted much earlier in the film. The revelation sequence also has strong traces of Vasu's 'Malabar Police' as well as 'Kanchana'.
Despite all the apparent lows, what makes 'Shivalinga' a watchable fare is its neat commercial packaging with doses of comedy and, more than that, its loyalty towards intensity. Raghava and his mother (played by the very talented Urvashi) tickle the funny bone. Vadivelu is in good form.
It was a good idea to have the element of inter-caste love affair between the children of two friends, a Hindu and a Muslim. The way Ritika Singh behaves like a Muslim in her tastes and cultural preferences also adds rich texture to the first half.
Raghava fits the role of a macho investigative cop with a mass hero appeal. He is as usual brilliant in dance and fight sequences and does a fairly good job in comedy and emotional sequences. But one cannot deny that he imitates his idol, Superstar Rajinikanth's mannerisms in many instances throughout the film. Ritika of the recent 'Guru' fame gets to make a chilling impact with her performance as well as some surprisingly horrific get-ups. Otherwise, she is just about okay.
Sakthivel Vasu has given a good account of himself throughout the film. Vadivelu as a thief who gets to live with Lawrence in his house manages to make us laugh in regular instances throughout the first half, although there is a strong Tamil nativity to his comedy. The lengthy comical scene in the second half where he tries to steal Urvashi’s belongings and gets caught doesn't tick. Urvashi as Lawrence's mother makes us feel that she is getting stereotyped in crazy mother characters but she aptly supplements Vadivelu’s comic efforts in the second half.
Bhanupriya, Jayaprakash, Radharavi and the girl who comes as Raheem's lover just fit the bill.
Except for the theme song, the rest just pass muster. Rerecording is deliberately loud. The cinematography by Sarvesh Murari is colourful and effective. Suresh Urs’s Editing is neat. The CG output is technically convincing for a film of its budget.
If the first half of is told quite tightly, the second half seems to falter here and there, only to pick pace in the climax. The performances are commendable, especially of the hero.