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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

Diya movie review: Sai Pallavi’s stunning performance cannot save this confusing film

Diya movie review: Sai Pallavi and Naga Shaurya’s film is directed by Vijay and produced by Lyca.

movie-reviews Updated: Aug 03, 2019 11:18 IST
Priyanka Sundar
Priyanka Sundar
Hindustan Times
Diya movie review: Sai Pallavi and baby Veronica play lead roles in the film.
Diya movie review: Sai Pallavi and baby Veronica play lead roles in the film.

Director: Vijay
Cast: Sai Pallavi, Naga Shaurya, Veronica
Rating: 1.5
A teenaged girl aborts her baby and spends the rest of her life haunted by -- literally -- who the foetus would have grown into. The premise itself is interesting -- tried earlier yet interesting still -- but needs careful and expert handling for audience expects chills and thrills while ensuring the sensitive story gets its due climax.

To return to director Vijay’s Diya, starring Sai Pallavi, Naga Shaurya and baby Veronica, we meet the young couple Thulasi and Krishna, who have just finished school and are spending some carefree time before they enter college. The couple is in love and soon realise they are pregnant. Not ready for this responsibility, they decide to abort the foetus. If you thought this was a spoiler, it isn’t.

In fact, the director is in no mood to keep this a suspense in the film. We see the couple eventually tie the knot, but happiness evades Thulasi. She still remembers her unborn child and grieves her loss. It is five years since that moment, but as Thulasi tells Krishna, “You could have forgotten what happened, but I cannot.”

The audience is left to assume the reason why Diya manifests as a ghost. There is no clear answer as to why she decides to take revenge on the couple five years after abortion. The fact that this is a revenge by the unborn child, who is now 5-year-old is also not a surprise. It is presented in a matter-of-fact manner.

While the theme is interesting, we are left wondering where does this film stand on the pro-choice vs pro-life debate? Isn’t it even a little weird to pick an abortion that was done for the sake of a better future for two individuals, either of whom was ill-equipped to handle a baby? Even more uncomfortable was the fact that Thulasi herself is studying to become a doctor.

In this same space, there was an opportunity to explore ideas like postnatal care, depression, or personality disorder. In fact, RJ Balaji, who plays the role of a policeman who is afraid of death and dead bodies, suddenly begins to take interest in a series of murders in connection with Thulasi. At this point, we start to expect a twist somewhere because what else would drive the horror movie until the end if not suspense. Right? Well, wrong. There are no twists and certainly, no scares in this horror film.

The director has tried to make the audience feel what the loss of an unborn child entails. He has tried to put forth the point that the couple chose to abort ‘the girl who could have been another Indira Gandhi or Kalpana Chawla’. My only question is, shouldn’t then the abortion itself have been related to the gender of the foetus, like the film Aval that picked on abortion in relation to female foeticide? In Diya, the couple or their relative who decide to go ahead with the abortion do not know the gender of the foetus. The choice is made by the family as the teenagers are clearly unequipped to bring up a baby.

The movie was initially named Karu, which is apt for the subject of the film. In Tamil, Karu is a foetus that is gender neutral.

The sole takeaway from this movie is Sai Pallavi’s acting. There is specifically one scene -- a close up shot of Sai Pallavi’s face with no dialogues and the camera focuses just on her expression. She nails the happy-sad feeling beautifully in this shot. Naga Shaurya, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be very comfortable in the character’s skin. For instance, if one were really confused about their wife’s mental health, there has to be some worry. Naga Shaurya as Krish has made a wobbly debut.

Speaking about the cinematography by Nirav Shah, a particular car accident shot in a 360-degree angle stands out for all the wrong reasons. It feels more like the character was a part of a video game in this scene. Special effects itself is not up to mark in this film.

Sam CS’s music has added much value to the film, the background score especially is haunting, which is exactly the feeling the film was aiming for but can never achieve.

Author tweets @Priyanka_S_MCC
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