He has essayed a variety of supporting roles. And though fairly neatly enacted, they were largely single dimensional — not giving the actor much space to experiment or to tap his potential. But with Achaaram, Ganesh Venkatraman has sprung a surprise. Surya, a strict upright cop with his own mental trauma — a character with grey shades — is a challenging one. But Venkatraman goes through the various nuances with efficiency and conviction. The debutant director has tried to offer a dark psychological thriller with some freshness. But the screenplay could have been more interestingly crafted and the narrative style more polished.
The opening scenes depict murders in Chennai, the audience in the know of who had done it. Police officer Surya is shown mercilessly shooting down lovers on the run or the ones in an illicit relationship. What is left to be known is the motive behind his act and his antagonism towards run-away couples. These scenes generate suspense and thrill, with a promise of more such moments to come. The narrative then tracks Surya’s journey, the strict cop on a punishment transfer to Kodaikanal. The lush cool peaceful ambience proves a contrast to the dark happenings to follow. A robbery in the house of architect Shiva and his wife Ramya (Munna and Poonam), brings the couple in close proximity to Surya. Munna could have got more involved in his role. Poonam comes out well in the emotional scenes towards the end.
There is a sense of déja vu in the episodes where Surya, takes interest in the case of the couple and his obsession with Ramya, the catching of the thief and the psychotic side of the cop is revealed. Then there is the murder of the senior cop (Sunder fitting in neatly) who warns Surya. He deviously traps Shiva and gets him out of the way for his final act. We have seen all this in the Ray Liotta’s Unlawful Entry. But what Liotta doesn’t get there, Venkatraman manages to. That is, the sympathy of the audience, after they have been taken on a flashback journey to his past. This whole episode, more of a typical Indian scenario, which we get to read in the papers often, is crafted with a fair degree of conviction. The narration takes on a total action-thriller mode after this, the scenes moving in fast succession.
There is a not-so-subtle alert and a warning to lovers who take decisions that are hasty, callous and selfish, unmindful of the damage and hurt they cause to their near ones and others in the bargain. The cinematography by Prathap is neat, but the song numbers forced in appear at inopportune moments, slackening the pace. The director has tried to infuse some freshness in the theme. If only the screenplay was more coherent and the treatment had more finesse. Achaaram is at the most a promising work of a debutant maker.