Director: Bramma, Anucharan
Director-duo Pushkar and Gayatri proved their mettle with films like Oram Po and Vikram Vedha. After nearly five years, they are back with an eight-episode web series titled, Suzhal: The Vortex, although not as directors. The series is directed by Bramma and Anucharan, instead, and written by Pushkar and Gayatri.
Suzhal, an investigative drama revolving around a missing child, starts on a promising note with Shanmugam (Parthiban) headlining a protest at a factory. He is the union leader, taking on Trilok Vadde (Harish Uthaman), the owner of the factory. In a fit of rage, Shanmugam says that the factory will burn if he doesn’t give in to the demands of the workers. The same night, there was a fire in the factory, but with no casualties. Naturally, Trilok suspects Shanmugam.
There’s police inspector Regina Thomas (Sriya Reddy) and sub-inspector Chakravarthy AKA Chakkarai (Kathir) investigating the case. Meanwhile, Shanmugam’s youngest daughter Nila (Gopika Ramesh) goes missing. There’s a link between the fire accident and Nila’s abduction of her. Nila’s elder sister, Nandhini (Aishwarya Rajesh), steps in and works with Sakkarai to find out the killer on the loose and those who caused the fire accident.
Suzhal is a Tamil word which translates to a vortex in English. This is synonymous with the screenplay, which takes you on a whirlwind of emotions. While the first episode runs for an hour, the rest of the episodes are at 40-45 minutes. Suzhal’s story goes back and forth and the initial sets of episodes are intriguing and suck you into the world. Along with the proceedings, we also see the Mayana Kollai temple festival, which goes on for nine days. Each day of the festival, the police find something that takes them one step closer to the killer. The festival is more like a metaphor in Suzhal.
Suzhal, as a web series, gets a lot of things right. It spends a lot of time establishing the characters in an interesting way. And hence, we understand the psyche of the characters and why they do what they do. The characters, especially Shanmugam, Regina and Sakkarai, are wonderfully gray and they propel the story forward. However, the story fizzles out mid-way once they reveal Nila’s whereabouts of her. After that, it is just overstretched and makes you guess the twists and turns from a mile ahead. That said, Suzhal still holds your attention for the most part.
Suzhal is technically sound, with brilliant performances by Sriya Reddy, Parthiban, Aishwarya Rajesh, Kathir and Harish Uthaman. A special mention to actors Gopika and Fredrick John, who played Nila (daughter of Shanmugam) and Adhisayam (son of Regina).
Aishwarya Rajesh’s Nandhini is a character who takes therapy to deal with repressed emotions. The creators sensitively treated the entire process and it is surely a nice step forward in portraying such characters. Towards the climax, a so-called twist seemed like giving justice to Trilok’s weird behaviour. Also, the conflicts introduced in the second half of the series seem forced and predictable.
Sam CS’s haunting score is exceptional in Suzhal and makes the audience feel what the characters are feeling. Mukeshwaran’s cinematography and Richard Kevin’s editing worked in perfect sync.
Pushkar and Gayatri’s Suzhal imparts a much-needed message in the climax, which is relevant to society. It also makes the show a must-watch for parents and children to know more about each other.
2.5 out of 5 stars for Suzhal.
Suzhal is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.