21 Nov, 2014 1 hr 54 mins U
Idoh The Dog, Sibiraj, Arundhati, Balaji Venugopal, Mayilsamy, Manobala
Shakti Soundar Rajan gives us a film that is more of an investigative thriller in which the dog plays a central role, and it does keep you engaged

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  • Critic's Review
  • Times of India
Synopsis : A dog helps his new master, a police officer, in the hunt for his missing wife, who has been kidnapped by a revenge-seeking criminal.

Movie Review: In some ways, Naaigal Jaakirathai feels like a new-age Rama Narayanan film — a pet helping the hero to overcome the villains is a trope that the director has used many times — but Shakti Soundar Rajan dials down on the camp and gives us a film that is more of an investigative thriller in which the dog plays a central role.

Karthik (Sibiraj), a cop, gets injured during a shootout while he is trying to rescue a kidnapped girl, and is put out of action. He is separated from his wife, Renu (Arundhati), and lives with his school-going sister, Vidya. He turns into a slob, whiling away his worries with beers, but soon enough Subramani (Idoh) lands in his house. The dog, who has seen action in the military, takes a liking to him after he rescues it from a gang of naughty kids, and Karthik, too, after a while grows fond of it. Shakti perfectly captures why they need each other in a scene in which he crosscuts between Shaggy and Scooby Doo on TV to Karthik and Subramani. Both have seen gun shots and have lost someone dear and so, this brings them closer.

Meanwhile, Renu is kidnapped by the man who was part of the shootout earlier, and he taunts Karthik and challenges him to find her after burying her alive inside a coffin. With minutes ticking, Karthik has to find where Renu is and save her and the brave Idoh is his only advantage. In a way, Renu's kidnapping becomes a redemption of sorts for the two who are still in trauma.

Naaigal Jaakirathai's success lies in how cannily Soundar Rajan gives us a thriller that also feels light. The scenes where Karthik and Subramani warm up to each other brings a smile to our faces while the treatment of Karthik and Renu's on-off relationship is fresh — we don't get romantic songs or a back story on their romance and yet, we get that these two love each other even though they might live away from each other. The villain is a formidable one, and the interval block is nicely set-up where it is the hero who ends up on the losing side after being outsmarted by the villain.

But there is a bit of spoon-feeding in the form of exposition that is necessary but sticks out on screen because of how it is presented, particularly in the scene when characters explain the chances of staying alive inside a coffin. The kidnapping of Renu could have been staged better. It happens on a rainy day but almost in the middle of the street and we wonder at that if a kidnapper would take such a risk. That said, the misdirection during this scene (we think Vidya might be at risk) is done well. Also, Soundar Rajan never gives us the reason why these criminals kidnap women, which makes us question their motive — are they doing this only for ransom or are they getting a kick out of watching girls die inside a coffin or is it both?

Still, some of the gags are hilarious... like a diminutive dog named Arnold, a visual gag referencing Titanic when an actual 'doggy style' happens. Soundar Rajan is also unafraid of taking hard decisions. A major character is grievously injured but then, unlike in this week's other release Vanmham , the director goes ahead and tells us the character is dead and brings this character back in spirit when the film ends in an ingenious and heartwarming way.
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