Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru aka D-16 [2016] – A Skillfully Executed Thriller

A bulletin-point report:

  • When I was 21 years old I had a hard time to unravel the identity of killers in some of the excellent crime fictions. Now here is a guy named Karthick Naren who has designed a good, puzzling thriller at the age of 21.
  • In this era of brilliant web and TV series, it’s not easy to come up with an engaging idea for a murder mystery. The first plus for Naren’s Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru aka D-16 is that I was completely hooked on to it. Like every other murder mystery, we have unreliable narrator, red-herrings, lucky breaks, gradual accumulation of information, and even underwhelming, ludicrous twists. Yet, the sensible aesthetics is the biggest selling point; more so than the inherent mystery.
  • The opening scene looks a bit stilted. We witness a very average staging of a crime scene. But he is able imprint what he wants to in our mind. A man sporting a face mask eerily walks through the rainy night. His target appears to be a young woman celebrating her birthday with boyfriend. Chaos reigns. We get the feeling that a cold-hearted killer is on the prowl.
  • The narrative fast-forwards to five years as our retired cop protagonist Deepak (Rahman) sits for a tea to talks about his last, unsolved interconnected murder & missing case. The party eager to hear this tale is a strange young man, who wants to join the police force.
  • Five years before, Deepak was called to investigate the suicide case of a young man (found with a head-shot) which turns out to be a homicide. Furthermore, a young woman is reported to be missing from her apartment flat. There are traces of blood in the wall. Three young men driving through the rain-soaked, residential streets hit and kill a man. Deepak investigates the strange link between the incidents with his efficient side-kick Gautam, a rookie policeman.

  • Taking the budgetary constraints into account, we must appreciate how director Naren has staged certain scenes with aplomb. In a typical Tamil crime film, characters and scenario would be means to just convey the crucial information. But here, Naren eases us into the atmosphere, organically bringing in the vital details.
  • D-16 does have too many of the pocket novel elements. For the sake of extending the mystery, characters keep on forgetting things or holds on to information. Naren pins the blame on certain unpredictable human traits, which is convincing in few occasions.
  • Naren’s script keeps us guessing throughout and forced to playback the events in chronological order. While some of the twists look so preposterous, we are thoroughly engrossed when consuming it on the whole. The glaring ‘logical problems’ perplexed me only after leaving the theater.
  • Some of the recent Tamil pulp fictions possess certain moral values. D-16 has those elements too. But more than the overt moralism, I liked the existential undercurrents accompanying it. The central theme of emotional frailty is conveyed with a grace.
  • The low-key performance of Rahman is a stark contrast to the amateur performances of the supporting cast. But these are the kind of flaws we can overlook as it doesn’t heavily impact our cinematic enjoyment.
  • Right from the imaginative title card to the interesting final voice-over starting with ‘Karma is a boomerang…’, Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru aka D-16 signals the arrival of a smart film-maker for Tamil cinema. A little dose of suspension of disbelief is necessary to fully enjoy this well-crafted whodunit/thriller. 





1 comment:

sujith v said...

I guess, I should watch it then.