There’s this distinctive quality to simulated rain. It pounds relentlessly on screen – a concerted effort to get all the actors really wet – large, determined drops that are actually visible. It pounds on the nearest prop – usually the windshield of a car, wipers sloshing about furiously. No wind, nothing. Of course, those natural monsoon showers that are visible one second and invisible the next are hard to achieve with a simulator, no matter how clinically you place those rain towers. And, I’m somewhat averse to the kind of full-bodied faux-rain that we see on screen – because, let’s be honest, I don’t want to be reminded that I’m watching cinema when I’m watching cinema. Isn’t that what a filmmaker would like, after all? Also, when there’s so much rain in sight, much of what happens otherwise is obscured – and I’m beginning to suspect that is probably why rain is used unabashedly in genres like crime and mystery. It makes for a diligent accomplice.
Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru, which stars a rather nice-on-the-eye Rahman as a cop, opens to the sounds of a steady patter. A car, an apartment, a killer, and a couple who is getting engaged. All against a dark backdrop of rain that just won’t cease. Then, the camera focuses on a window – the shadow of a window which lights up between flashes of lightning. A gun appears within, a shot is heard.
The director is young, it would seem – but I like his youth.
The couple is dead, I think – they are the victims, surely? The scene switches to the present. There’s only a vague sense of time that I can sense in Dhuruvangal… despite those labels; the past isn’t really done yet, and the present has already begun. A visibly aged Rahman limps along his garden when he receives a call, apparently from a colleague. Can he convince his colleague’s son to not join the police force? Rahman agrees. A young man appears. The tale begins. And, the scene switches to the past – or more precisely, where it all began. Car, apartment, killer – no scratch that – killers. There are new characters in the latest version of the past. The scene of crime is revisited quite a number of times through the movie – in the guise of different theories, but I can never look past the mad sheet of rain, and a blurry tangle of limbs. It does get a little overwhelming at a point – Kris? Rajeev? Mano who is Kris, but is also Mano? The new faces don’t help either. One hour down, I cannot tell apart Kris and Rajeev.
There are also those moments in Dhuruvangal… that quite make something out of nothing. In the thick of the mystery – Rahman goes home. He meets an old neighbour who tells him that a man had been lurking outside his apartment for a long time. He walks inside his apartment, grabs something from the fridge, and finally settles with a cup of noodles – while the audience is on edge, waiting for something to happen. A loud something that could shatter the deafening silence, for it’s definitely too abnormally normal, and those crafty switches between long shots and close-ups don’t help either. But the loud moment that the director braces the audience for, just never comes. A lovely bit of filmmaking right there. A snatch of personal space, colourful paraphernalia, muted background score, an expectant hush – and absolutely nothing. A nice deception.
Dhuruvangal… scores on other fronts, too – at an hour-and-forty-five-minutes, it is as brief as it is rapid, and has no songs. Rahman as a cop – with just a touch of pride and immense authority is a delight to watch. There’s something of note in every scene, a chain of events that you’d miss if you blink – and there’s the mystery itself. One too many suspects, deception, and the malignant twist at the end. The sea of unfamiliar faces is probably one of the few things that compounds the movie-watching experience. That, and the rape. And the allusion to the woman’s ’emotional reaction to her stalker’ that the director makes at the end – heard over a picture-perfect Ooty landscape.
The Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.