Airaa movie review: Nayanthara starrer is an emotional horror drama with bland thrills

Hindustan Times | ByKarthik Kumar
Jun 19, 2019 09:59 PM IST

Airaa is far more emotional than Nayanthara’s other two horror films such as Maya and Dora but that is what makes the film standout. However, it is as a horror flick that it fails.

Film: Airaa
Director: Sarjun KM
Cast: Nayanthara, Kalaiarasan, Leela and Yogi Babu
Rating: 2/5

Airaa stars Nayanthara in a double role.
Airaa stars Nayanthara in a double role.


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Nayanthara’s latest horror offering Airaa, in which she has played dual roles for the first time in her career, is built on the concept of ‘domino effect’ which is hinted through the title credits in the form of an animated sequence. Unlike her recent horror outings such as Maya and Dora, Airaa is far more emotional and that’s what makes the film standout; however, as a horror flick, it lacks the thrills and jump scares to really sell the ghost angle.

The story is centred on Yamuna (Nayanthara), a journalist who is forced to write columns that answer senseless questions from readers. Yamuna hates writing the column and instead suggests to her boss that they start a Youtube channel and deliver spicier content. At home, her parents are after her to get married but she isn’t ready yet. When her parents go ahead and finalise a boy for her, she runs away from home and goes to her grandmother’s palatial house in Pollachi. Soon, Yamuna starts experiencing eerie events - from creaking doors, to rocking chairs and whatnot.

Nayanthara as Bhavani is revetting but as Yamuna her presence adds little to the plot.
Nayanthara as Bhavani is revetting but as Yamuna her presence adds little to the plot.

Yamuna decides to cash in on the eerie experiences and starts making fake haunted house videos to become an overnight sensation. Eventually, Yamuna realizes the house is really haunted and as she tries to find out the truth behind it, we follow Amudhan (Kalaiarasan) through a parallel sub-plot in which he’s trying to find out the people responsible for the death of his beloved Bhavani (Nayanthara, again) but stumbles upon a serious of mysterious deaths in the process.

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The two story-lines intersect at one point and what happens when the paths of Yamuna and Bhavani cross forms the crux of the story.

After Maya and Dora, Airaa is Nayanthara’s third outing in the horror genre.
After Maya and Dora, Airaa is Nayanthara’s third outing in the horror genre.

Airaa works better as an emotional drama more than a horror thriller. It has a strong and relevant emotional core that somehow that never works within the horror template. Despite borrowing all the popular horror tricks from the book, the horror angle in Airaa sticks out like a sore thumb, never making the intended impact. Nayanthara as Yamuna has hardly anything to contribute to the story and hers is a poorly etched character. Even the scenes that are meant to evoke laughter (with Yogi Babu) fall flat.

It’s in the flashback episode; Airaa really makes a strong impact. It introduces us to Bhavani who is believed to have born with a curse. Minutes after she’s born, her father dies after being struck by the lightening. Bhavani’s presence is seen as bad luck and her own family doesn’t want to have her around. She gets unconditional love and attention from Amudhan, who accepts her the way she is and gives her more than just moral support.

Nayanthara as Bhavani is a character you remember long after you walk out of the theatre. She’s terrific in a couple of the emotional scenes and so is Gabriela who plays her younger version. Airaa should’ve been built on this emotional core but gets a needless and silly horror twist to make the experience really tough to sit through. The ending makes the film sillier than it already is and this is where you wish more time and effort was put into writing.

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