Director: Rajjan Madhav
Cast: Prasanna, Cheran, Nikita Thukral, Haripriya, Suma Bhattacharya, Jayaprakash
Two strangers meet on a train journey. Striking a conversation, one proposes a crazy deal to the other. That the former will eliminate a person the latter wants to get rid of from his life. And in a quid pro quo, the latter has to kill the person who is making the former’s life miserable. It will be a perfect double-murder, with no apparent motives, and impossible for the cops to solve.
Then one goes ahead with his side of the bargain.
This is 'Muran’s plot.
A familiar one? Naturally, it was the premise of Hitchcock’s famous work 'Strangers on a Train'. Rehashed quite a few times in Hollywood itself, the film had a couple of versions in Hindi too. And now, if a debutant director thinks that the master craftsman’s classic needs a Tamil make-over, who can grudge him that!
'Muran’s two players are Cheran and Prasanna. The opening scene where Cheran first sees Prasanna, is at a roof top restaurant. Where the latter, in an inebriated condition, does the dare devil act of jumping from the top, and narrowly missing death. It would be the same place where the duo at the fag end of the narration, would have their final deadly encounter.
The second time Cheran spots him is on the highway, where his car having broken down, he thumbs a lift from Prasanna. It’s on this long road trip that we get to know about the two men. Prasanna is the rich brat, a playboy who has lived life on the fast lane and loved to put himself in death defying situations. The bane of his life is his father (Jayaprakash, neatly fitting in) who has never managed to understand him.
Cheran is the sober, diffident cautious one. A struggling musician, his marriage is on the rocks, with his wife (Nikita) cheating on him, and refusing to give him a divorce. And he has this growing bond with friend Lavanya (Haripriya). It’s here that Prasanna pitches in his double murder deal to Cheran, who dismisses it as a whacky idea that is not to be taken seriously. That is, until he finds his wife dead, and he is intimidated into doing his part of the deal. The female leads have not much to do.
Debutant director Rajan Madhav (son of renowned Malayalam music composer the late Ravindran) has not just kept the basic knot, but has also loyally borrowed most of its situations. He may have tweaked it at a few places (the climax was mind boggling in the original), but it’s all at a superficial predictable level. A psychological thriller warrants a taut script, a speedy pace, and clearly etched characters. But here, the script is loosely crafted with gaping holes.
Like when Cheran’s wife is killed, the investigating cop suspects Cheran. Then, the cop too is found dead, but there seems to be no follow-up to the case. Cheran, roaming on the streets and stalking Jayaprakash with a gun pointed at him in public view, is ridiculous. The characterisation is ambiguous, the pace slackens many a time. And the edge-of-the-seat feel is totally missing. Among the songs of first timer Sajan Madhav (brother of the director), 'Ithu varai…' is the catchier one.
Cheran has this standard set of stereotyped minimalistic expressions. His is a character that goes through varied emotions, and surely he could have worked more on his expressions. Prasanna has a penchant for playing characters with dark shades ('Anjathe'). And as the devious ruthless planner, he makes a charming rogue. Muran is a merciless mauling of a Hitchcock classic. These strangers on the road are no patch on those fascinating ‘strangers on a train’.