It’s of immense relief to watch a film – involving the supernatural – without those spurious jump scares. Right in the midst of the world thought up by writer-director Pawan Kumar, one senses his absolute regard for the genre, the horror-thriller – it’s intangible, this reverence; unseen, unfelt, nothing physically representative of it, and yet subliminal in its existence; something that’s starkly missing in other scripts of its ilk.
It’s a good omen, and that’s saying a lot for a premise that is solely constructed to scare. Here, there are no apparitions that materialise out of thin air, no CGI-created monstrosities. The paranormal characters in U Turn are almost human, you can touch them, fold them in a hug and they don’t quite dissolve into mist. Well, not until later, anyway – but then, you don’t quite know if they are real, or exist in the characters’ heads, your heads. The vengeful spirit too, is whole, with limbs in the right places; it doesn’t quite frighten the way supernatural entities are often thought to. Yes, there’s the malevolent glint in eye, and a grim sense of foreboding throughout the film, hinting at an ominous something that lurks out of sight, but that really is where the director draws the line. The restraint is hard won, and that perhaps, is where the script triumphs.
U Turn, both Kannada and Tamil, could have easily lapsed into the kind of show that could have been satisfied with the typical motifs that form the horror core, but the writing strives to stay above such frivolities. It wants to be a thriller first, and more than that, wants the audience to care. When the film opens – it begins the same way the Kannada version does, an almost frame-for-frame remake – the camera, upturned, skates along the road divider, its world, and by extension, ours, is askew. But, it doesn’t exactly glide, the ride isn’t smooth; it navigates speeding vehicles in a blur while in a saner part of the same frame, credits serenely float up the screen. It’s such an inspired start to a tale that ventures into the paranormal – a cool lens trick suggesting that everything is out of whack; the sky below, the road above, everything else in between. Soon, as in the original with Shraddha Srinath, the world rights itself around a turn, and we are introduced to Samantha Akkineni who banters – alternatively light and thorny – with her mother. After a two-minute conversation that establishes the social backdrop (“why aren’t you married yet”), class (“journalism instead of engineering?”) and profession of the protagonist, she’s at work trying to break that big story when she’s sucked into what seems like a crime vortex. A sinister someone is ticking off those who take an “illegal” U-turn. Only, it’s no mortal transgressor she’s dealing with. On hand to help with the proceedings are Rahul Ravindran as Adithya, a crime reporter who Rachana likes – don’t care for the romance here, really – and Aadhi Pinisetty, who owns his role as the smart, tough, and extremely good-looking cop. Oddly enough, even a moustache sits well on him – just gorgeous.
U Turn is clever in the way it entertains; the setting is modern, and the protagonist is a woman, who finds herself in a situation that is bizarre, and yet (we are told) true – based on real events. It seems to have been born that way, movie material, fodder for a world that thrives on the outlandish, cloaked and presented via a relatable environment, with more often than not, characters whose quirks, flirtations and prejudices are as intimate and familiar to us as our own. Which means, you don’t quite pause to question the irregularities – you don’t wonder why the cops harass a woman journalist for information they could have found with a couple of calls, or stay baffled at their refusal to see what’s so blatantly obvious to us. You know it has to be made that way; the first dates are meant to be awkwardly sweet, parents are born to be intolerant, young women will always be suspected to have loose morals, and the cops – they would just have to navigate the longer route to the truth, really.
The U Turn 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.