Director Venkat Prabhu has a rare distinction as a non-linear story-teller. Be it Saroja or Mankatha, he induced his trademark style in the narrative. In Biriyani, he took a linear route with some sparks of connecting the dots game during the climax. In all his previous outings, the master-stroke lies in the black comedy he manages to generate without going overboard. Here too, backed by some fine performances, he pulled it off with finesse. The movie is also a litmus test for Karthi after going through a lean patch in this year, and comes out with flying colors in this spicy offering.
The film explodes with a ‘Men at Work – Take Diversion’ board and the smoke trail leads to a flashback that paved way for all the comic elements in the film. The creative touch of the director is seen right from the first frame when he gives credit to himself – a Venkat Prabhu diet – on a traffic police barricade. This one is followed by a chase involving Karthi and his friend Premji Amaran. The latter narrates the story in a flashback mode. Get ready for more of ‘Flashback’ and ‘Live’ cards on screen.
Karthi is cool and goes easy on girls. It takes him few seconds to woo someone. Not only that, girls give him a rating of 12/10! Moving with him Premji sees no chance to find love as he plays spoilsport always. This attitude becomes the causative factor for a strained relationship with his girlfriend played by Hansika. On the other side, he goes to a town to help his would-be brother-in-law in his business (Heavy product placement of Mahindra can be seen here). The follow of events and his fetish for biriyani puts him in deep soup. The rest of the story revolves around how Karthi sets things right.
The first half of the film never gives an inkling of a thriller. It fills the air with comedy and romance and just when the film is inching towards the interval the film shifts gears and slips into a thriller zone. The second half is where the entire core lies in. Many creative ‘black comedy’ elements hit you in the face. Even a sad situation was not spared to tickle the funny bone. The director rewrites an unwritten rule that comic episodes can be built with many characters. Here, he uses only two characters in problematic surroundings to bring the house down.
Venkat Prabhu packs a lot of concepts in the songs. He effortlessly laces them with extra gloss to make them more appealing. In one song you can see freeze frames, underwater singing, and in the other you can feel the retro vibe. One is targeted at the front benchers and the others act as catalysts for the narration. Yuvan Shankar Raja hits a century with Biriyani, and he is credited for this at the beginning. He becomes a pivotal cog in the film’s wheel and his background score knew no bounds and blends with the proceedings. The way he conjures myriad pieces is laudable.
A few surprises come in late and you would be eager to see where the story is headed. Though the movie is replete with creative treatment, the masala staples become unavoidable. A fight sequence becomes mandatory for the hero – even in the climax when the suspense unfolds. Even some unwarranted scenes bring down the pace. The assassin / hit woman is a faint reference to many Hollywood films and some are archetypal Guy Ritchie.
Karthi has a worldly charm. He takes you through a wide array of emotions and expressions. He is playful at the start, moves into a confused zone when the film hits the midpoint; his true grit and intensity surfaces towards the end. Premji does what he is good at – make a mockery of him, and try to break the barrier of tolerance. In a finely crafted role, he complements Karthi in every act. Hansika has little to offer and lightens the screen only in a couple of songs. Nasser gets to do a comic act in the climax.
Biriyani is a taut thriller with some loose ends. The way the suspense unfolds in a simplistic way may be unpalatable. Even most of the scenes give a feeling of déjà vu. While it’s refreshing to see a film-maker refine a format, on the other side it’s painstaking that he can’t do away with force-fit commercial elements. But Venkat Prabhu must be applauded for the way he has embedded a wafer-thin story line in multiple layers of entertainment. He climbs a few notches in the ‘black comedy’ thriller genre.
My Rating: Expectation – 7/10; Reality – 6/10view less