Film: “U Turn”; Director: Pawan Kumar; Cast: Shraddha Srinath, Roger Narayan, Radhika Chetan, Krishna, Aarna, Pavan, Naveen and Sudha Belwadi; Rating: **
Three years after his much-acclaimed micro-budget sci-fi romance, “Lucia”, director Pawan Kumar returns with his Kannada film “U Turn”, which is subtitled in English. Released under the Drishyam Films banner, this is a conveniently woven, head-scratching, super-natural thriller based on true events.
The tone of the narration is set by the inverted shot of a busy road in blue hue with the song “Karma” reverberating in the background. It is interesting as well as arresting.
Set in Bengaluru, the narration follows Rachna (Shraddha Srinath), a trainee journalist who is chasing a story related to motorists, who with scant respect for civic issues, shift the road dividers to take a “short-cut” U-turn on a busy bridge.
Inadvertently, while investigating the story, she gets roped into a murder case. The plot gets further murkier when it unravels that whoever she intended to interview, the guys who removed the road dividers, were killed either by accident or in what appears to be suicide.
How she stops this mayhem, in-between a romance track, forms the crux of the tale.
Shraddha Srinath as Rachna is earnest and fairly convincing. She is aptly supported by Dilip Raj as her colleague and love interest; and Roger Narayan as the helpful, investigating police officer G.K. Nayak along with the rest of the cast. They all are natural, sincere and deliver what is expected of them.
Technically, the film is well-mounted. With moderate production values, the competent craft contribution has elevated the viewing experience of this film.
Art directors Baadal Nanjundaswamy and Ravi SA’s sets seem realistic and lived-in, the computer-generated effects merge seamlessly in the live-action frames captured by the cinematography team, who apart from capturing the drama, have managed to give some nice shots. Striking among them is one, when the camera zooms out to give an aerial view of the bridge.
The sound department’s contribution too is noteworthy. Their dexterously designed sound notes are sharp and accurate. The audio and visuals are ingeniously layered and crisply chiselled by editor Suresh.
Writer-director Pawan Kumar is an astute storyteller, but as a writer, while toying with crucial elements defies logic thereby spoiling the charm of the narrative.
Unlike his earlier films, his direction lacks sincerity. While he delivers some remarkable jump-scares, his handling of the scenes is perfunctory. This is especially evident in the scene when after Rachna and Nayak have had a horrifying experience in their jeep, their expressions lack the intensity needed.
Also thrillers are defined by the mood they create and, unfortunately, “U Turn” falls flat in this department.