Karthik Shamalan is quickly rising to be one of Malaysia’s most promising director. His signature style seems to be pushing the limits and boundaries of local Tamil cinema.
Since Karthik Shamalan’s new venture, Sughamaai Subbulakshmi will be hitting cinemas on the 17th of May, we thought we’d look back at his slasher thriller film, The Farm: En Veetu Thottathil, which came out last year.
The Farm: En Veetu Thottathil is inspired by The Red Riding Hood, and is essentially about a psychopath in a wolf mask, the Onai, who kidnaps girls and then tortures the hell out of them, and ultimately murdering them. The psychopath locks the girls up in a room that is part of a complicated labyrinth architecture, making it impossible for them to escape.
Within the first few minutes of the movie, you’re already witnessing bloodshed and brutality, which prepares you for the rest of the movie. What I really love about the film is that Karthik Shamalan does not hold back. If he wants to give you a slasher film, you’re getting a slasher film. Be prepared to watch throats getting slit and skulls getting clobbered with a hammer. Be prepared to put your gut to the test, because The Farm: En Veetu Thottathil will test how far you can go.
Just like Karthik Subbaraj (if I may make that comparison), Karthik Shamalan does not emphasize on a glamorous cast. Instead, the focus is on the story and its execution. At the end of the movie, you feel like you have gone on a wild ride and overwhelmed by a mix of emotions.
I think we can usually tell if a movie is going to be good within the first 10 – 15 minutes of it. For example, in Fifty Shades of Grey, the moment Anastasia stumbled through the door and fell, I knew the movie was going to be shit. With The Farm, thankfully, it was the complete opposite.
The movie opens with Detective Kabilan (Mahesh Poobalan) who is recovering from a traumatic experience that stemmed from a case he previously worked on. He channelled his regret, pain and agony in a very subtle but effective manner, so much so that you already know that this movie isn’t going to disappoint you. He then takes on a new case, and you can’t wait to see him turn this one around, overcome his misery, and become a top notch detective again.
Also, my favourite part of the movie was when Kabilan took a jab at Tamil cinema in the midst of solving a case. I won’t ruin it for you.
Jaya Ganason is given the task to portray the role of a deaf girl – Sujitha – and she delivers an excellent performance. Without even saying a word, you feel everything that she is feeling. Fear, happiness, sadness, anger – every emotion she felt came through. Very few actors can match up to her level of commitment in delivering such powerful performance. Also, kudos to Karthik Shamalan for casting based on talent, instead of pursuing a glamorous, covergirl face.
The Onai, man, this is where true acting comes in. You’re wearing full costume, there’s a mask covering your face – Tom Hardy style – and you still have to convince everyone what a crazy, tormented, psychopath you are, also Tom Hardy style. This is where Dhilip Kumar comes in and shows you he’s got what it takes. His body posture, his movements, his gestures, his pauses, everything was in sync for you know that the person behind the mask is a deranged lunatic.
Mohanaraj also does justice to his role as Sujitha’s love interest. However, I feel like his character in the movie was sort of left hanging. What actually went on between them? Why did he leave Sujitha? Why was he interrogated after she was kidnapped? Why didn’t he bother to track her down? Did their love story have anything to do with the plot at all?
Shameshan Mani Maran did a great job scoring the film – the soundtrack playing a huge part in giving you that adrenaline rush and keeping you on the edge of your seat.
My only complain about the film is the pacing. The plot developed very well throughout the movie. However, after Sujitha got kidnapped, the cat-and-mouse chase went on for a bit too long. I feel like it could be tighter, with a more fast-paced cut between the kidnap/torture and the investigation. Or perhaps it’s just me – I couldn’t wait for the torture to end and to see Sujitha escape to safety.
Overall, The Farm: En Veetu Thottathil does a good job at keeping you at the edge of your seat, and at times hiding behind a blanket because it’s just too much gore.
Verdict: If you think all local Tamil movies have the same, boring story, this movie will shatter that paradigm.