Saithan review: Psychological thriller that fails to thrill

Hindustan Times | ByGautaman Bhaskaran, Chennai
Dec 01, 2016 04:58 PM IST

Touted to be a psychological thriller, Saithan, starring Vijay Antony and Arundhati Nair, is a rather dull affair. Things get interesting only when Charuhasan and YG Mahendra come onscreen.

Director: Pradeep Krishnamoorthy
Cast: Vijay Antony, Arundathi Nair, Charuhasan, YG Mahendra
Rating: 2/5

Saithan stars Vijay Antony, Arundathi Nair and Charuhasan.
Saithan stars Vijay Antony, Arundathi Nair and Charuhasan.

India’s paranoia about the mysteriously elusive foreign hand is as old as the country’s independence, and it did not come as a surprise to me that debutant director Pradeep Krishnamoorthy should have chosen to walk the same path in his Tamil work, Saithan. However, his canvas contains a lot more than this. Never mind, it leaves us confused and confounded.

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A drug company with its headquarters abroad makes India its experimentation laboratory testing a new formula on men and women who are kidnapped and imprisoned, literally chained to their beds. The medicine affects different people in different ways. Some die, and their organs are illegally harvested and sold.

But, some like the film’s protagonist, Dinesh (Vijay Antony), develops an abnormal ability to recall his past life -- where he was a humble Tamil teacher, Sharma (also Antony), replete with a turban, in a Thanjavur school. An adopted son and a marriage with a much younger woman, Jayalakshmi (Arundathi Nair), complete his domestic bliss.

Half a century later, the story travels to Chennai, where Dinesh -- newly married to Aishwarya (Nair again) -- is a smart techie, who begins to hallucinate. He remembers Jayalakshmi, and hears a voice which seems to be pushing him to commit suicide.

Anything more on the narrative will be a clean spoiler, but what is bizarre about the Antony starrer is its needless effort to make a stew of the story. Once Indian cinema made movies on reincarnation and reincarnation alone. But Krishnamoorthy wants to dish out much more than this, and so he peppers his plot with wicked doctors, straying wives and a woman who marries only to trap her husband into the unethical and potentially fatal medical experiment -- but finds herself in love with her victim. Can one ask for anything more in the roughly two-hours of the film’s run time?

Saithan is a psychological thriller but it just doesn’t impress.
Saithan is a psychological thriller but it just doesn’t impress.

A brooding Antony and a rather silly Nair do not add much to push Saithan into a bit of breeze. But Charuhasan (actor Kamal Hassan’s elder brother) in a cameo and YG Mahendra as Dinesh’s boss do make some kind of impression in an otherwise dull movie, touted as a psychological thriller. Not much of thrill here, though.

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