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Director Sarjun famous for making two much debated shorts ‘Lakshmi’ and ‘Maa’ debuts on the big screen with ‘Echarikai…’ aided by the strong cast of Varalakshmi Sarathkumar, Sathyaraj, Kishore and debutante Vivek Rajagopal. Does his straight lift of the 2009 Hollywood thriller ‘The Disappearance of Alice Creed’ hit the right chords with the audience remains to be seen.
Thomas (Vivek Rajagopal) is orphaned at a young age as his drunkard father kills his mother and in turn his uncle David (Kishore) kills his father. David begs Thomas to confess to the crime as he is a juvenile and the punishments would be softer but the former tells the truth and his uncle gets 14 years jail term. After serving his prison term David approaches Thomas with a plan to kidnap a rich girl so that they could both settle down. As per plan they kidnap Shwetha (Varalakshmi Sarathkumar) and keep her captive in a deserted church on the outskirts of Chennai. The father of the girl seeks the help of a retired DIG Nataraj (Sathyaraj) who starts an unofficial investigation. A couple of unexpected twists occur and the rest of the screenplay is about whether the duo manage to collect the ransom or did Shwetha escape their clutches.
Varalakshmi Sarathkumar has a penchant for picking strong characters and here she reprises the role made famous by Gemma Arterton in the original. Unfortunately unlike the famous J Blakeson film though the story revolves around her the script does not give Varu any scope to make an impact with her performance and she ends up without even a single scene she can own. Debutante Vivek Rajagopal has given a good account of himself in the role of a shady character with a soft corner and he could surely get a footing in Kollywood as he possesses the necessary talents. Sathyaraj as the DIG is his usual self and while his investigation methods are the seen too often variety his interactions with his terminally ill little daughter too is a shade on the artificial side. Among the cast it is Kishore who impresses the most as the impulsive criminal and especially his body language conveys the broken ex-convict very convincingly. Among all the sudden twists to the characters it is Kishore’s in the climax that really touches the heart.
What works in ‘Echarikkai Idhu Manithargal Nadamadum Idam’ is its fresh take on the thriller and to a certain extent the subplot of Sathyaraj’s little daughter too holds the attention. The making is slick and the presentation is on par with the modern style of story telling.
On the downside the film is an amalgamation of contrived situations and convenient twists that never catch you off guard and only makes for some labored viewing. There could have been so much play between the relationship dynamics of the two captors and the victim but it all passes with zero tension. The relationship between Varu and Vivek is not at all convincing. For a thriller the sad thing is this one has very little thrills on offer. Sathyaraj’s character turning black from grey also borders on the comical as the question arises that he would have been better of burning the car instead of the cash to really save his daughter in the climax. The writing in general is week and that is why the “message” in the climax is lost on the audience.
Its a decent debut for cinematographer Sudarshan Srinivasan and editor Karthik Jogesh who have both done a neat job. Sundarmaoorthy’s songs are passable but the mandatory duet between Varu and Vivek could have been avoided altogether. There is a distinct ‘Kaththi’ touch in the background score. Sarjun has tried to adapt ‘The Disappearance… to Tamil but has not succeeded in giving it a local flavor or gotten the screenplay to move in an interesting manner. On the whole the audiences are unable to connect to either the characters or the proceedings.