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Movie Review: Asokavanam (2001) Back to Movie
Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam
Fans Rating: 63%%63%% 63% (7 votes)
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A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam

Cast: Sriman, Livingston, Riaz Khan, Rajasri, Master Mahendran, Baby Jennifer
Music: Balabharathy
Direction: Thakkali Srinivasan

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 predictably.

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.


Rate movie A movie review by Balaji Balasubramaniam