'Naane Varuven' review: Even Dhanush can't save this unscary thriller
There is a dish in Tamil Nadu's cuisine called aviyal—a stew made with available vegetables. Tamil star Dhanush's latest outing Naane Varuven helmed by his director brother Selvaraghavan is nothing but a movie version of aviyal. Its story reminds us of the actor and director's older movies such as Kaadhal Konden, Nenjam Marappathillai, and there are even notes of 3. We review.
What is the film all about?
Naane Varuven is the story of a young girl Sathya who is possessed by the spirit of a boy Sonu. The girl's father is Prabhu (Dhanush), who finds out that they are being haunted. Dhanush plays another role—Kathir, who is Prabhu's twin brother and the main antagonist. How Prabhu untangles the complexities to save his daughter makes up for the rest of the story.
Glaring technical errors and bad acting topple the movie
Other than Dhanush, no one seems to have taken the effort to act. There are some glaring goof-ups—like we can even see the actors looking for the director's approval before getting out of frames. In a sense, though we could not hear it, we could feel it when the director prompted "action" and "take OK" just by looking at the actors' actions on screen.
Only Dhanush has a solid role
Compared to Dhanush, Sathya's character has a meatier role. But the actor could hardly emote. Indhuja Ravichandran, who plays Prabhu's wife has absolutely no role. Her only dialogue is perhaps, "I'm so scared, hubby." And Selvaraghavan's cameo appearance comes out of nowhere.
Poorly written characters don't fit anywhere
There are several unanswered questions owing to poor characterization and screenplay. Kathir is a psychopath (why?) right from his childhood. It's established in a rather laughable way (the audience laughed at what was intended to be spine-chilling). What role does Selvaraghavan play? Why is Kathir a "hunter"?! Why did the spirit choose to possess Sathya? Why did Prabhu bring a bunch of "young exorcists"?
Film is so dry that even unfunny jokes sound funny
Yogi Babu's "jokes" are as old as the pyramid. But the audience laughed anyway probably because these were the only entertaining part. His attempts at subtle dark humor did work, but they are neither organic nor novel.
Major drawback is the lack of light
We understand that movies involving ghosts usually have a darker color palate. But it looks like Naane Varuven was completely shot in the dark except for a few shots. One can hardly see the proceedings on screen. The locations look forced to fit into the genre. Prabhu's home, the chamber of a psychiatrist, and Kathir's residence are all unnecessarily and extremely dark.
Skip it or watch it when it arrives on OTT
Naane Varuven finishes with a cue that there may be a sequel which is the only scary part of the film. Amazon Prime Video has bagged its streaming rights and one can attempt to watch it when it debuts on the platform. Naane Varuven (which translates to "I'll come") will make you scream "Naan Varala" ("I'm not coming"). Verdict: 1/5 star for Dhanush's charm.