Our revenge thrillers seem to enjoy taking the paranormal route these days. They also seem keen on centring around social issues, with a special focus on public apathy. Not that I particularly mind — such films give us an opportunity to question our seemingly normal road and social behaviour. If Mercury was about a trip that went wrong, U Turn gets its core from accidents that happen on a flyover. What I like about these ideas is that even though they demand a fair amount of imagination from the viewer, when made well, they push the viewer to introspect. In these stories, it’s important that they get the world of the story right. U Turn gets it right in parts, its surprises partly diminished by its flaws.
It does help to see the film with a fresh pair of eyes, I think. Having a disappointing history with watching the original before the remake, I wanted to ensure my slate was clean for U Turn. It definitely did help in keeping me engaged. But Pawan Kumar could have done more to make us believe the world he is setting up. The production design is cinematically larger than life — Rachana’s (an intern journalist) tastefully done duplex apartment; an unnaturally large, spacious and neat police station; Rachana’s peg for a story about a flyover — and I found it weak that she wanted to ‘know the mentality’ of traffic rule offenders when ideally, such a story should be more data-centric. These aren’t major lapses, but are constant reminders that this world is too perfect to be real. While I am glad Samantha chose to dub for her role, the incongruous mixing makes the voices sound inorganically distinct. Unfortunately, U Turn joins the list of bilinguals that have several scenes of the characters mouthing their lines in a different language. To Pawan’s credit, he goes for wide shots for such scenes, but it is still impossible not to notice the erring lip sync.
Despite these missteps, U-Turn is pretty engaging, thanks to some neat performances and Pawan’s core story. Speaking about her role in an interview with us, Samantha said that it was one of the occasions where she didn’t have to dumb down for her character. That’s precisely why I am glad she picked this role, and she does a neat job as well. It was, however, Aadhi Pinisetty in U Turn who made me wonder why we aren’t seeing more of him in Tamil. As Nayak, he delivers exactly what is needed: a subdued sense of authority that never crosses the line into arrogance, like most of our cop characters tend to do.
Pawan’s story holds a mirror to our self-absorbed lifestyles that don’t allow us to think about the hindrance we cause others. Only when made to stop to consider the far-reaching consequences of our seemingly simple actions do we realise and repent. U Turn, despite its misgivings, made me think, and that is more than you can say about most films.
This was originally written for The New Indian Express. You can find it here.