Psychological thrillers are definitely a rare commodity in Tamil cinema. And well-made
psycho-thrillers are even rarer. Asokavanam
belongs to the former category but
unfortunately, not the latter. Like Adhey Manidhan
a rare entry in the horror genre, this movie too flatters to deceive. It is a
thriller that draws us in with the right setup and has some good ideas but disappoints in
its pacing and execution.
Mohan(Riaz Khan) and Uma(Rajasri) and their children Rahul(Master Mahendran) and
Priya(Baby Jennifer) are a happy family but unknown to them, their every activity
is being observed. We get an inkling of the stalker's mind when he scribbles 'My
Car' all over their car and 'My House' on the walls of their house. After rendering
Mohan immobile, he kidnaps the children and through them, lures Uma too. He finally
reveals himself to be Madhu(Sriman), who has his own reason for abducting them. Meanwhile,
their family friend Inspector Selvam(Livingston) tries to learn their whereabouts.
The movie begins well and the fact that we know that the happy family is being
observed while they dont, raises our interest. The stalker's actions are intriguing
and we become interested in the reason behind his actions. The other notable aspect
here is the way the scenes involving the family are handled. The dialogs are natural
and there are some nice touches (like the first scene where the actions of the father
are described by the daughter). Infact, several scenes involving the family, like
the mother-daughter fight about the school picnic, are handled naturally without an
overload of sentiments.
The reason behind Sriman's actions isn't overly strong but it is passable and doesn't
derail the movie. But the screenplay begins to lag from this point with too many
scenes portraying the bonding between him and the children. The scenes where Rajasri
plots their escape are done reasonably well and more time could have been devoted
to these instead. The sudden introduction of the group taking responsibility for the
kidnapping is a nice twist that raises our lagging interest and the way it is linked
back to the main story is clever. Livingston's deduction about the fate of Rajasri
and her kids is also clever but the way he finds out about Sriman is laughable.
The climax is routine and inspite of some pointers the other way, the movie ends
Sriman, usually relegated to playing the friend of the hero in movies like
Sethu and Dheena, gets a meaty
role and makes full use of the oppurtunity. Though he seems overenthusiastic at
times, he does reveal his talent in the scenes where he gets into different moods
with Rajasri and the kids. Rajasri is either angry or scared most of the time.
Baby Jennifer has some nice lines and delivers them well while Master Mahendran
overacts initially but shows a nice difference between his old self and new
brave self. Music director Balabharathy gets by with remixes of popular old songs
but his background score fails in raising the tension during a few key scenes.