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Review: Strawberry is a decent directorial debut

Tamil film Strawberry works because of its storyline, says S Saraswathi.

National award-winning lyricist Pa Vijay makes his directorial debut with a horror film titled Strawberry.

The film is loaded with computer graphics designed to give you the creeps, but they are too drab and predictable to make any real impact.

The director, however, more than makes up with his hard-hitting storyline that has you completely hooked.

The film throws light on the gross negligence and apathy of private schools in providing a safe environment for its students. The director attempts to portray that education is only a thriving business in our country.

Besides directing, Vijay has also produced the film and plays the lead role.

Other actors in the cast include child artist Yuvina Parthavi, Avani Modi, director Samuthirakani, Devayani, Joe Malluri, Thambi Ramaiah and Robo Shankar.

The film starts interestingly enough.

There is a whole lot of mumbo jumbo on the human soul and its supposed spiritual journey from earth into the unknown.

Milovina (Avani Modi) is a mystique painter, who spends all her time capturing the paranormal on her canvas.

She is assisted by her father D'Souza (Joe Malluri), a psychic medium conducting séances to help the spirits of the dead communicate with the living.

During one such séance, they are contacted by the spirit of Anu (Yuvina Parthavi), a little girl, who has lost her life in a freak accident.

She wants to meet Saravanan (Pa Vijay), a cab driver.

The two decide to help her, but have their own ulterior motive.

They get in touch with Saravanan, who is too scared and has no idea why this spirit wants to contact him. As the story unfolds, we learn more about Anu and her parents, played by Samuthirakani and Devayani.

It is the performance of these two actors that lends credibility to the film and its relevant social message.

They are both brilliant as grief-stricken parents trying to cope with the loss of their only daughter.

Equally impressive is the seven-year-old Yuvina Parthavi.

She is a natural and effortless performer, quietly stealing the show. Joe Malluri is also convincing, but Vijay and Avani could have been better.

The first half of the film is quite interesting with its scientific temperament and the flashback of the heartrending incident has been portrayed well without too much melodrama.

In the second, however, the film descends to your regular fight between the good spirit seeking revenge and the evil exorcist trying to protect the sinner.

The CGI does little to complement the ambience and a couple of songs completely disrupt the narrative flow, but the Kaiveesum number by Uthara Unnikrishnan is truly haunting.

Despite the lack of scary moments, the uninspiring computer graphics and cliché-ridden climax, a decent storyline and some good performances make lyricist Pa Vijay’s Strawberry worth a watch.

Rediff Rating: