As I exited the underwhelming ‘Shailaja Reddy Alludu’, it occurred to me that like her husband, even Samantha Akkineni has stuck to mainstream entertainers (including this week’s release Seemaraja) and her filmography has very few exceptions. Director-writer Pawan Kumar’s bilingual thriller, U Turn is one such glorious exception. A remake of his own Kannada hit, U Turn is an edge-of-the-seat thriller, with measured pace and the right amounts of twists and turns, barring the slightly bumpy climax.
An interning journalist with ToI, Rachana (Samantha Akkineni), sets out to cover a story on the recurring accidents at a flyover in RK Puram in Hyderabad. She soon gets entangled in a web of seemingly interconnected events, which link her to the mysterious death of a bunch of people unrelated to her. Taking the help of her office crush, Aditya (Rahul Ravindran) and the tough cop, Nayak (Aadhi Pinisetty), Rachana solves the mystery and it is this unfolding of events that create an intriguing and engaging narrative.
Initially, I found it hard to fathom why would a rookie journalist bother about people taking a wrong U Turn on a nondescript flyover. But the racy, fast-paced narrative makes you overlook it and absorbs you into the mystery surrounding these deaths. The camera work by Niketh Bommireddy is top-notch, and he uses rain, lightning and odd-shots of his actors to create a dark and consuming image. The director, Pawan needs to be applauded for not making the visuals gloomy and low-spirited – a convenient way chosen by most of the directors, who make thrillers. There are no songs dampening the tempo of the film, and the eerie background score by Poorna Chandra Tejaswi perfectly accentuates the thrills.
Playing a righteous cop fighting against a cliched boss, Aadhi brings an honesty to his character and is effective in his part. He is smart and acts pre-emptively, trying to be a step ahead of the antagonist in the game. Rahul Ravindran is easy on the eyes and gets a relatively smaller part but delivers whatever is expected of him. Bhumika Chawla, in a cameo, gets steely gazes and a long face complimenting her character well. But, as evident from its trailers, the movie rests comfortably on the shoulders of its protagonist, Samantha. Her character is layered well – we are told she is an independent woman, shooing her pestering mom away, resisting a ‘USA sambandham’ and referred as ‘Mogarayudu’ at office. These details help us connect to this petite rookie, who seems rather composed and confident, even when stuck in a chaotic police case. She chews on the author-backed role given to her and delivers beautifully. Thankfully, she never shrieks or cries out loud – another unwritten norm in female-centric thrillers. It is a great attempt in her career and she deserves to be applauded.
While I loved most part of it, I felt the climax was a bit of let-down (No more details since I do not give spoilers). I was not completely convinced with the final twist (though I had guessed it correctly!). I am told the writers have slightly altered the climax, from its Kannada original, which I have not seen. Having said that, U Turn is a crisp, sharp and well-directed movie, that deserves to be watched.
Over the years, we have mostly seen women in Telugu movies headline roles in thrillers. From the days of Charmee and Bhumika in Mantra and Anasuya, to the recent Anushka starrer, Bhagamathie, women have mostly been chosen as the protagonists in either horror or thriller genres. With mainstream actresses like Samantha taking a risk with U Turn and the multi-lingual Queen remakes, I am sure the change is just around the corner.
My Rating – 3.5/5