Film: “Devi”; Director: Vijay; Cast: Prabhudheva, Tamannaah Bhatia, Sonu Sood and RJ Balaji; Rating: ***
If you are a regular watcher of Tamil movies, especially the spate of horror-comedies that have come out in the last few years, you could easily guess the scene where the ghost would make a grand entry. You could tell when there’s a close up shot of a character, the ghost would stare in the face when he or she turns around. Or you could tell there’ll be a scene when the camera pans over a sleeping couple at the stroke of midnight.
In Vijay’s “Devi”, thankfully, there’s not a single horror stereotype you could point out to and say, ‘hey, I’ve already watched it in some other film’. There’s no creaking of the door, or howls of the dogs at night, but what you get is a refreshing horror-comedy featuring Prabhudheva as a hapless husband, and in a solid comeback role.
Even though the initial 20 minutes of the film are a lull, and it features a needless song that proves Prabhudheva can still dance and when he moves people go into a frenzy, “Devi” picks up steam after Tamannaah is introduced and the story quickly shifts to Mumbai. Even though there’s a lack of nativity, the rest of the film chugs along smoothly with occasional laughs and thrills.
It would have made sense to have set the film in some southern part of the country. Setting it in Mumbai might work for Bollywood audiences, given the film also released in Hindi, but it doesn’t appeal to Tamil audiences and that’s disappointing. Or it would have made sense had the makers ensured all the actors lip-synched perfectly to the Tamil dialogues. Watching Sonu Sood mouth Tamil dialogues in “Devi”, despite his popularity among southern audiences, feels very artificial.
Prabhudheva, in spite of being away from Tamil filmdom for over a decade, owns the role of a husband with metropolitan dreams who is forced marry a village belle. Tamannaah shows in both the roles the kind of versatility she hasn’t in a long time and due credit needs to go director Vijay for writing a story with a very strong female protagonist.
“Devi” works solely because of its treatment of the genre and for bringing back Prabhudheva in a memorable role.