Nayanthara’s terrific performance holds together this uneven supernatural thriller

Airaa is a supernatural thriller that falls short of the expectations its trailer had raised. You cannot really call it a horror film as it is more of an emotional revenge story with Nayanthara in a dual role. The director Sarjun KM is undecided about the genre whether it should be a horror thriller or the emotional travails about a woman who has gone through hell. However, it is Nayanthara’s performance as the dark-skinned Bhavani that holds the uneven narration together.

The director tries too many things at the same time and tries to play it safe as the focus and thrust of the narrative keeps changing. There are two Nayantharas – one a strong, aggressive and stylish Yamuna and the other the dark-skinned and submissive Bhavani shown mostly in black-and-white. The first half is totally dominated by Yamuna, while Bhavani comes as a back story in the second half as the mystery character around which the film revolves.

The film begins in a remote village where a few cops visit a huge haunted bungalow after getting a distress call. Cut to Chennai where Nayanthara (Yamuna) gets a big hero introduction scene where she puts a sexist man whom her parents want her to marry in place. She is fed up of parental pressure to get married and has had enough of her routine life, handling the agony aunt column of a popular daily. She decides to takes a break and goes to a village where her visually impaired grandmother (a terrific Malayalam character artist Kulappuli Leela) lives. Yamuna finds that a lot of bizarre events like black cats monitoring CCTV, creaky doors, rocking chairs and shadowy ghost-like movement around her.

The smart Yamuna senses a business opportunity in the eerie atmosphere around her. She starts making ‘fake horror videos’ along with a local (comedian Yogi Babu) and becomes a Youtube sensation! Meanwhile in Chennai, a guy named Amudhan (Kalaiyarasan) witnesses the mysterious deaths of people — in some way connected to his past — falling from roof tops. At the same time, back in the village things take a strange turn for Yamuna as she is being hunted by some unknown supernatural powers. Her grandmother is attacked by spirits and is hospitalised and her life is in danger. At the interval point, Yamuna and Amudhan’s character intersect and they join hands to find out the back story of Bhavani (Nayanthara), who was Amudhan’s childhood lover, the root cause of their current crisis.

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