EVARU (2019)

  • Release Date: 16/08/2019
  • Cast: Adivi Sesh, Regina Cassandra, Naveen Chandra, Murli Sharma, Nihal Kodhaty
  • Director: Venkat Ramji

That rare adaptation that is better than the original

Evaru is inspired by the Spanish thriller Contratiempo. Contratiempo was also remade in Hindi as Badla starring Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu and was almost a frame to frame recreation of the original. I used the words “inspired by” for Evaru because it is a very different film from Contratiempo in a lot of ways. Even though the basic premise and layout of the narrative remain the same, it is a much denser, laid out and twisted take on the story that Contratiempo was about. This is also a film that successfully fixes some of the glaring issues that I had with the original and it’s remake and Indianizes the content to such a great extent that it stands tall as its own case.

Sameera (Regina Cassandra) is found in a retreat after having murdered a police DSP, Ashok (Naveen Chandra). As per her statement, she was raped by Ashok and she killed him in retaliation. The incident sparks a huge controversy against the Police in the state and forces the department to hire a cut-throat lawyer to destroy Sameera’s reputation and prove her guilty of premeditated murder. Sameera’s lawyer feels the need to prepare her for her day in court and sends in Sub Inspector Vikram (Adivi Sesh) to prepare her for that fateful day. As the two begin their session in a secluded room in the Marriott Hotel, Vikram starts realizing that Sameera might be holding back a lot. The big question is would it prove her guilt, or would it prove her innocence altogether.

Unlike Badla and Contratiempo which unfolded mostly in a room, Evaru often takes us to different locations and parts of disjointed narratives and keeps the proceedings breezy. There is a major chunk of the story that isn’t related by Sameera but comes from Vikram and this is the portion that made me scratch my head on how it was related to the basic premise of the film involving the murder of the DSP. I couldn’t co-relate the two and when finally, I was able to do it, I couldn’t help but be in awe of the director’s ingenuity. Venkat Ramji didn’t take the easy way out like Sujoy Sarkar whose Badla was a beat per beat recreation of Contratiempo. Instead, he created a whole new Indianized version of the story that is layered and takes a major detour before zeroing in on the basic premise albeit from a different direction. It must also be added that that the film successfully deals with one of the biggest drawbacks that both the original and its Hindi remake had. Venkat Ramji totally changes the final reveal of the previous two films in which a face mask figured prominently. We all must agree that it was just too much to fathom. Here we get a version of the climax that makes complete sense and is more acceptable than a man wearing a rubber mask to impersonate someone else for hours and yet never gets noticed.

Despite having a lot happening in terms of the story, the film is still very character dependent and dialogue-heavy. There are prolonged sequences wherein people just talk. These are the sequences that needed the extra spark in the characters to work and hold on to the viewer’s attention. Adivi Sesh has enough charisma and charm to accomplish that and nail these sequences. It is very hard to make out from his essay whether he wants to help Sameera or nail her. For someone like me who has seen the previous films, it was a matter of putting 2 and 2 together but I just couldn’t as his expressions and the layout of the narrative kept getting the better of me. The actors did such a great job toggling between their expressions and rendering what was the need of that moment that it was impossible to put a finger on.

With her stupendous act here, Regina Cassandra just became one of my favorite Telugu artists working currently. Why isn’t she doing more films is beyond my understanding? Comparisons with Taapsee in Badla are obvious and at that, I must admit that she has done a far better job than her in every sense of the term. I just loved how she toggled between the various moods of her character. There were moments when your heart went out for her but then suddenly, she would act in a way that gave an indication that she was a totally different person. I just loved the amount of authenticity that she brought to every facet of her character. Also, she made it a point to act in tune with Adivi Sesh without which both their acts would have faltered.  Add to that just how ravishingly good looking she is, and you have a performance that one can practically drool over.

Naveen Chandra ass DSP Ashok is an important character because right till the end of the film we do not know if he is the devil that he is made out to be or is just an accessory in a greater scheme of things. I was highly impressed by how he toggled between expressions of the various versions of the character. He literally made me go for the various versions of the character and put enough doubts in my mind to believe what he was saying at any given point of time. Nihal Kodhaty plays an extremely important character that I cannot discuss here without giving spoilers. He is probably the most heartbreaking character in the whole film and is a delight to watch. It isn’t easy to play a cancer patient with such finesse. He carries the kind of authenticity that is hard to miss and yet never goes over the top. One little complaint was with the character of Nihal’s mother played by Pavithra Lokesh. Her character needed to be a lot more devastated going by the kind of tragedy that she was going through. Lokesh clearly lacked the intensity.

On the technical front, Evaru excels. There is little action in the film but whatever little is there is done with conviction. The cinematography and editing are spot-on and some of the scenes like the one involving the abuse and murder in question are well executed. There is a plush and vibrant feel to it that is unmissable. The cinematographer made it a point to ensure that Regina Cassandra looked her best in every frame. He captures her with a kind of penchant that makes her radiate out of the screen even in sequences where we see her battered and bruised. The film never lags in speed. Be it the sequence to sequence editing, in-sequence editing, or the overall flow of the film, it scores brownie points in all aspects.

Seldom one comes across a remade/inspired film that is better than its original. For me, Evaru worked better than Contratiempo and Badla in every aspect. It has better performances, a more engaging screenplay, and better-looking cast. The fact that the narrative kept me guessing for most of the part and endeared the film to a greater extent to me. I was ignoring this film since I learned that the film followed the same storyline as Contratiempo but now having seen it, I embarrassed that I had ignored this gem for so long. Anyone who has seen the original will thoroughly enjoy this film as he will watch it in a different dimension. The ones who haven’t seen the first two films will be amazed by it as they will not have any of the previous content to lay back on and for them, it will be a whole new experience, unlike anything that they have seen in years. Powered by Adivi Sesh and Regina’s simmering chemistry and an intricate mystery in the midst, Evaru is a must-watch.

Rating: 4/5 (4 out 5 Stars)

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