When you make two immensely successful films that are talked about years after they were made, the audience expects to be enthralled in the same manner again. They want an element of surprise. This is a tricky path. They have a truck load of expectations. It becomes tougher for a film maker to sustain his audience base. Mani Ratnam had to return to his comfort zone to feel accepted again.
Jeethu Joseph made an intensely gripping family suspense drama with Drishyam which was successfully remade into all south Indian languages and in Hindi as well. Before teaming up with Prithviraj in Oozham (Turn) and even before Drishyam, he had crafted an intelligent suspense thriller Memories. You wish his latest film to not surprise like his earlier famous ones but at least engage. Sadly, the film maker falls disappointingly short.
Surya Krishnamurthy (Prithviraj sporting a stylish look) is an engineer based in the US, who expertises on controlled demolition for technical purposes. His workaholic father is a morally upright Health Inspector. Surya returns home for the engagement of his sister, Aishwarya. The early scenes see him bonding well with his family that includes his foster brother, Ajmal (Neeraj Madhav). But things get a little complicated for Surya after his return to US.
He learns from his sister through a Skype call that their family friend, Parthasarathy, a senior police officer has been killed in a bomb blast. Even as he wonders, he finds to his utter shock a gang barge into his house to kill his sister and parents. On returning home, he takes the help of his tech-savvy foster brother, Ajmal and Gayathri (Divya Pillai), younger sister of the deceased police officer, Parthasarathy. As they dig deeper, they find that the two acts of killing are related and the man behind this is a medical business tycoon (Jayaprakash). As Surya sets out to seek vengeance using his controlled bomb explosion skills to the fore, the businessman hires a similar expert (Pasupathy) to nab him.
But thanks to the film maker’s over-indulgence in trying to simplify things, Pasupathy’s character fortuitously ends up as a caricature and even makes the film, unbearably predictable. What made Jeethu Joseph stand out in his earlier films was in allowing the story to grip you. He seemed to have totally forgotten that. He also indulges in a lot of close-up shots when cutting to flashback/present scenes which worked well with Drishyam but falls flat here. The theme requires a sense of urgency and a need for the audience to be pushed out of their comfort zones so as to keep them on the edge of their seats. Oozham fails on both fronts. It moves so slowly that you wonder whether it is an episode of a stretched-out series or a film. The film maker also appears to be confused in his treatment, oscillating between a straight revenge saga and a suspenseful revenge saga. Why the need to spell out A leads to B, B leads to C and C leads to D? Dialogues seem forcibly added to make the audience understand. For a film with a tagline ‘It’s just a matter of time’, why does Jeethu Joseph not seem to understand that the audience will pick the pieces and fix it in a matter of time? Oozham is an uncharacteristic detour and one fervently hopes the film maker returns to his strengths.