Two women — one a call girl and the other a 12-year-old — are fleeing from three men, who are desperate to hunt them down for reasons of their own.
There is a very telling moment in
when Devanayagi (Lakshmy Ramakrishnan), a former sex worker, gets into a situation where she either has to give out information regarding Nandini (Malavika), a 12-year-old girl and Rekha (Pooja), her erstwhile friend who is still stuck in the business, or see her children being told that their mother was a sex worker in the past. Only a few scenes earlier, we had witnessed Devanayagi look accusingly at Rekha, after she admits that she agreed to take Nandini to a paedophile because it will bring her some cash and spare her the ignominy of having to satisfy customer after customer in a seedy hotel. But, Devanayagi decides to do the former, because that is what most people do when faced with a dilemma — survive or drown.
Refreshingly, the film is not judgmental about people sinking low to survive but embraces those who try to redeem themselves. And so, it is the story of Rekha who realizes she has done a horrible thing, and decides to protect Nandini, even if it means putting herself in danger.
The film is structured as one long chase. It begins with Rekha and Nandini fleeing by boarding a train. We are then presented the hunters — the moody Chinnayya (Vinod Kishan, too withdrawn), who wants to hunt these two down for murdering his father, the barber-pimp Singaram (Amarendran, very funny) who 'arranged' the deal, Lankan (John Vijay, in typical creepy avatar), the sleazy private eye to whom Singaram goes to track down the two, and the kidnapper boss from whom Rekha had rented the kid for the pimp. As they try to find out where their two preys might have fled to, we are told little bits of the back story.
There are some nail-biting moments (when an underling of the kidnapper spots the duo on the train, when Lankan and Singaram reach Devanayagi's house) and an uncomfortable one (the entire episode inside the house of Chinnayya's father), and director Balaji Kumar extracts some fine performances from the cast. He is aided by the moody visuals of his cinematographer Sivakumar Vijayan and an evocative score from composer Girish Gopalakrishnan, and manages to maintain the suspense and keep us engrossed as the past and present unfold.
The one major misstep is the climax, which is quite anti-climatic. The director ups the odds against his protagonists by having them captured by Chinnayya and his gang in the end, but what happens after this is a twist that is not quite convincingly done. We had earlier seen this kind of flaw in
, where you wanted to question why a man who is trying to save a family from the police and goons contacts a guy who is in police custody, and puts everyone in danger. Similarly, here, you wonder why a man who gets a closure of sorts by a murder would want to hunt down the killers. Also, he is unsuccessful in trying to add a bit of visual flair (the VFX in this portion is shoddy while remarkable elsewhere), bringing down the film by a notch. Still, these are small lapses that we can willingly excuse in a film that is otherwise terrific.