Director Vivek's Athiran, starring Fahadh Faasil and Sai Pallavi, evokes curiosity in viewers through its unique storytelling way. The debutant director has successfully kept it intact till the climax to hand the viewers a true suspense thriller.
“Brighter the light, darker the shadow”, reads one of the boards in a mental asylum, the backdrop of the whole movie. The movie opens in 1967 introducing actor Shanti Krishna. The movie leaps years and changes gear in narration with Fahadh's entry as MK Nair. He is visiting the creepy asylum, owned by Benjamin (Atul Kulkarni) and Renuka (Lena), both as cryptic as the place, with a purpose.
The credits open with a song sequence introducing rest of the inmates - Leona Lishoy, Surabhi Lekshmi, Vijay Menon, Sudev Nair and Hussain, a painter. Each of these characters is sketched in such detail that their stories could easily add sub plots to the movie.
Nair's visit to the hospital soon changes into a search for an unlisted patient, Nithya Lekshmi played by Sai Paillavi. And her story is an irresistible bait that will keep viewers nailed to the edge of their seat.
The first half is packaged well with intense and gripping moments. But does the climax live up to the build-up; we leave it for you to decide.
Vivek is a man of vision inspired by an array of classic 'thrillers'. It seems like he was forced to dilute the narration at many places for the business needs by bringing in cinematic elements like the duet song featuring the hero and heroine.
Fahadh sure is the bright light here but Sai Pallavi outshines him, thanks to a powerful script by PF Mathew, who is entering a different genre compared to his earlier works. There's no denying that performance from each of the cast was one of the highlights of the movie. The credit should also go to the casting directors of the casting agency, Launchpad, for finding the apt faces for these charecters.
Just like in any other psychological thrillers, music has a deep role and Ghibran's score and Jayahari's music strike a right chord. Cinematographer Anu Moothedath and editor Ayoob Khan do need special mention for making the movie technically sound.
Athiran is no way a horror film but it has ample creepy moments that will scare you. Apart from bits and pieces of cliches, the movie is a good attempt by a newcomer. But like the saying goes, the closer you look the more imperfections appear.