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Imaikka Nodigal film review: The chase is on

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A fine thriller that keeps you hooked with interesting twists
There’s an urgent request that Tamil cinema has for Bollywood — to let go of one of their acclaimed filmmakers, Anurag Kashyap. The man can act, and well. In Imaikka Nodigal, he plays a psycho killer on the loose. The film is quick to set up his character; a few minutes into it, we’re shown a shot of him on top of a terrace. He’s kidnapped a young girl, and is in talks with the father for the ransom…despite knowing that the cops are hot in pursuit. He shows no signs of nervousness about it, and goes about the job with an eerie calm.

How he manages to hold his nerve despite it all is a secret that we learn well into the second half. The seed of Imaikka Nodigal is somewhere there, and to get there, we need to understand its lead characters. There’s CBI officer Anjali Vikramadityan (Nayanthara, in yet another memorable role) who is assigned to the mysterious case of a person who goes about kidnapping for seemingly no reason. The ransom is always the same, and the suspects are all high-profile. Who’s behind it?

Storyline: A CBI officer has to solve the case of a few mysterious crimes, and find the psycho killer behind them
The cops stumble upon the fact that all this is very similar to the operations of ‘Rudhra’, a criminal that they thought they’d seen the last of. But with the current spate of crimes being similar to the ones committed a few years ago, the police sense the comeback of ‘Rudhra’.

A thriller like this ought to travel at a fast pace, and Imaikka Nodigal does, except when it wants to focus on a tepid love track between Arjun (Atharva) and Krithika (Raashi Khanna), whose link to the main plot we learn a tad too late. Director Ajay Gnanamuthu (who last did the impressive Demonte Colony) has a fine grip over the genre, with Imaikka Nodigal’s cat and mouse game and twists providing for some edge-of-the-seat entertainment. His writing is especially good, with all the three lead characters (Nayanthara, Atharva and Anurag) getting adequate screen space and back stories. He has help, mostly from cinematographer RD Rajashekar, whose lighting and angles, especially of the villain portions, set the right mood.

Among the minor issues of the film is its length – at a running time of about 170 minutes, it does test your patience a bit. But the performances make up for it; Nayanthara continues her rich streak of form. She seems to be getting better at selecting scripts with every project. Vijay Sethupathi shines in a cameo that explains quite a few things. But the winner is undoubtedly Anurag Kashyap who is terrific as the menacing villain. If only we could kidnap him to Tamil cinema.