Asuravadham movie review: Sasikumar is riveting as a silent vigilante in this thrilling revenge saga


Director-turned-actor M Sasikumar deviates from his usual onscreen image of the action hero who’ll do anything for his friends in Asuravadham. His latest release sees him play a silent, deadly vigilante out for revenge. His target? A man who doesn’t know of Sasikumar’s designs. Asuravadham works to a large extent due to its edge-of-the-seat presentation and the way it unfolds initially.

The film begins with a telephone conversation between a man called Samayan (Vasumitra) and his father-in-law. The latter demands that Samayan make amends for his waywardness thus far, and also reconcile with his estranged wife. The father-in-law’s words have an implied threat, but Samayan — who runs a provision store and hangs out with a rowdy crowd — isn’t perturbed. After he hangs up, he gets a series of missed calls. AN irritated Samayan calls back, but is cut off by the person at the other end.


Then, the mysterious caller gets through, warning Samayan that he will be stalked for the next one week — and killed. From that moment, Samayan is a hunted (and haunted) man as the caller (revealed to be Sasikumar) turns his life upside down. Director Maruthupandian keeps this cat-and-mouse game taut and the tension at fever pitch. Right till the end, Samayan keeps questioning this stranger who is out to get him: “Dei, yaaru daa nee? (Hey, who are you?)”.

Asuravadham keeps you guessing throughout its two-hour plus run time. The vigilante’s motives remain unstated, as does his name, until just before the climax — a narrative device that holds this thriller together. Tamil cinema has had many a revenge tale, but the director’s vision and his grip over the genre are what set Asuravadham  apart. Throughout the film, Sasikumar’s character speaks volumes through his silence. Coming from an actor who is known for his verbose dialogues, this is a remarkable change — only his eyes reveal his thirst for vendetta. When we do find out what drives his quest for revenge, a topical message is conveyed in a subtle manner.

Sasikumar is riveting in Asuravadham. Vasumitra — new to the scene — is brilliant and believable in his role as the cunning womaniser Samayan. Unfortunately, Nandita Shwetha, who appears as Sasikumar’s wife in the flashbacks, has hardly anything to do. Two other important factors that work for this film are newcomer Govind Vasanth’s background score (which creates an eerie, anything-could-happen mood) and SR Kathir’s top-notch camerawork, which elevates the suspenseful elements of the story, especially in those moments when a fearful Samayan becomes aware that he’s being watched.

One of the best sequences in the film is when a fight breaks out in the narrow corridor of a small-town hotel, where Samayan has gone into hiding. It seems as though the film’s basic thread draws from Steven Spielberg’s Duel, where a motorist is stalked by the unknown and unseen driver of a truck on a lonely California highway. Asuravadham only sags a bit towards the end, when the back story is revealed, and at the climax when the hero literally takes on an army of goons. A predictable ending for an otherwise unpredictable thriller.

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