20 minutes into The Road, it seems reasonable to expect Trisha’s latest to have some fresh tricks up its sleeves to glue you to your seats. There’s a sense of ease and a hint of urgency in how writer-director Arun Vaseegaran introduces his characters, which usually promises the making of a thriller with a specific atmosphere. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with The Road.
Just as she’s about to start another journey as a mother, independent journalist Meera’s (Trisha) world turns to dust when her loving husband Anand (Santhosh Pratap) and her sweet little son Kavin are killed in a freak road accident on their way to Kanyakumari. The shock puts her in a two-week coma, just enough time and reason to shift our focus to Mayazhagan a.k.a Maya (Shabeer Kallarakkal), a young college professor who is devastated by a shocking turn of events that follows the constant harassment he is subjected to from a female student with an unhealthy obsession over him.
Maya’s story is told parallel to that of Meera’s in a bid to do away with the routine flashback you’d expect — an ineffective technique as the beginning of Maya’s story is not only ridiculously-written and predictable, but also takes away too much from what Meera does after she wakes up.
Meera, with the help of her friend Uma (Miya George) and constable Subramani (MS Bhaskar), realises that the death of her family is no ordinary accident and that they were collateral damage in a staged accident by a mysterious group that carries out such cartel-style executions on a particular stretch of the NH44 near Madurai. Of course, this is shocking only to Meera since Arun chooses to tell us this right in the very first scene of the film; a major misstep in retrospect.
The Road (Tamil)
Director: Arun Vaseegaran
Cast: Trisha, Shabeer Kallarakkal, Miya George, MS Bhaskar
Runtime: 159 minutes
Storyline: Grieving the death of her husband and child, a young journalist vows to get to the bottom of the mystery surrouding the fatal accidents that happen at a specific stretch of the NH44
Any casual film viewer would have their guesses for how the story might pan out, but that it doesn’t move an inch till after the intermission is surely appalling. You are also asked to overlook how a journalist gets to spearhead such an elaborate investigation involving a full-time cop, gets forensic analysis done instantly, wields a gun when needed, and answers to none!
The film also lets sentiment blind logic and we are constantly forced with melodrama and a loud background score that highlights emotion even when the nature of the situations is enough. The music by Sam CS is quite ineffective even for the supposedly-thrilling stretches considering there isn’t enough on screen to back the suspense it tries to build.
All of this could have been salvaged had The Road capitalised on the pockets of novelty that you see ahead in the second half. For a brief moment, Meera’s investigation begins to feel real when you see the notoriety of the mafia she is up against, but by then, asking anything worthwhile from this film is proven to be a futile exercise.
Also, though Maya’s character arc might have started with its own questionable takes and issues, where we find him in the second half holds our attention for a while. The film also meanders on some grey area under the pretext of adding thrills, like the unnecessary vilification of a group of tribals — if the attempt was to make a Bawaria-like gang, showing a caricaturish group of dacoits who howl and hack anyone to death without a convincing reason to back was not the way to go.
After the final punch to the gut — an awful joke of a climax — you wish actors like Shabeer and MS Bhaskar choose scripts that do justice to the performers in them. For Trisha, who once again shows that she deserves a script worth her stardom and heart, The Road offers nothing new and her poor run with solo lead films continues.
The Road is currently running in theatres