Director: Pa. Vijay
Cast: Pa. Vijay, Avni Modi, Yuvina, Samuthirakani, Joe Mallury, Devayani
He played the protagonist in a couple of films earlier and scripted one of them. And now lyricist Pa. Vijay dons the director’s hat in Strawberry, a supernatural thriller with a strong social message. Vijay scripts, produces and directs the film apart from playing the lead. And for a debutant director, he’s done a fairly impressive job of it.
Stealing the show is child actor Yuvani, the episodes related to her poignant and touching. The butterfly logo with the title Strawberry has a strong connect to the film. It’s about the restless spirit of a little girl who reaches out to a cab driver she had briefly made friends with to help her teach the errant ones a lesson. The early scenes depict the main characters in the plot. It opens with a road accident, where Adhi (Samudrakani) is hit by a speeding vehicle and hospitalised. He and his wife (Devayani) had just lost their school going daughter in an accident. Samuthirakani and Devayani essay the grieving parents effectively.
Next, it shifts to Vikram who runs an elite school. Finding himself harassed by a supernatural presence in his apartment, he is advised to leave the place till a special ritual is conducted. Steps in Saravanan a cab driver (Vijay), who gets a call to pick up Nilovina a self -styled ‘human soul painting artist’ (Avni suitably fitting in). There is also her father (Joe Mallury, a shifty character) who could communicate with spirits. The characters are interlinked as the narration progresses and we get to travel into their flashback. What follows when Saravanan encounters the spirit forms the rest of the plot.
The special effects depicting the supernatural happenings are imaginatively designed. The scene of the accident where a school girl is killed is realistically captured. Impressive cinematography (Maara Varman) captures the action efficiently. Tajnoor’s background score enhances the mood and feel. The negligence and apathy of school authorities who try to absolve themselves of criminal negligence is brought out effectively. And so is the trauma of parents who lose their children in mindless accidents. The message is strongly conveyed. But at times one does feel that the tone is preachy and sermonising. The mood shifts from the sombre and the scary to a more pleasant one in the second half. Where a little girl’s unsatiated zest for life is depicted. And it’s this emotional quotient, rather than the humour or the horror element that connects one to the film. Strawberry can be considered as a debutant maker’s promising work.