Even if you haven't been to the first-day-first-show show of Kanchana at Odeon Deluxe and internalized the frenzied drumbeats celebrating the release of Raghava Lawrence's latest film, you need but one cursory glance through the first several scenes from Kanchana to know this: Lawrence sells.
More importantly, he knows he does, and he knows what to do with that ability to sell. The credit to Kanchana's watchability goes mainly to the upbeat spirit and energy he infuses throughout the movie - when not being a dancer/hero, then when being a filmmaker.
Kanchana is a horror-comedy (dubbed from Tamil), meant to be a sequel to Muni
, Lawrence's earlier movie from the same genre. Lawrence plays Raghava, a hero-types who seems all normal except when darkness falls - he is so scared of ghosts he takes his mother along when he has to pee at night.
Unfortunately, an otherwise harmless set of cricket stumps manages to sneak into his home a real ghost that is fully in its element. The ghost gradually makes its presence felt amongst Raghava's family, scaring the hell out of the 2 people who see/experience it - his loud mom (Kovai Sarala) and his vadina
Things turn a little gruesome when the ghost gets violent, and it is now time to hear the story of its tormented past and why it seeks revenge. To its credit, Kanchana's flashback does well up dry eyes.
Before the interval sets in, the film is quite an entertainer, thanks to its horror and its humour. This is not a special effects film, and relies only on "subtle" horror that sneaks up behind you. The scares come through only in the form of split-second glimpses of a shadow or a black smoky haze, and maybe a flash or two of a mangled corpse.
Lawrence is good as an entertainer, and his antics with his family and his heroine (Lakshmi Rai) make up the hilarious bits of the film. As for his dances, they're good as expected, but there's nothing particularly spectacular there, except for the impressive song with the physically-challenged people dancing.
That said, Kanchana is a flick whose first half promises a lot but whose second half is busy just trying to end. The few thrills, effective though they are, are finished with pretty soon. The ending of the movie fizzles out with a drab finale that is high on gore and mindless violence, and low on novelty.
Logic isn't the USP of the movie, and questions remain. What happens to the family that lives beside the spooky plot of land? Why is the rocking horse present inside Lawrence's house?
As for the performances, Lawrence and Kovai Sarla steal the show. Their comic timing is impeccable. Lakshmi Rai sizzles quite a bit. Sharat Kumar's transgender role is well-done and is almost award-winning material.
Thaman's music is l-o-u-d and a complete "mass" package, but the dances make them sound better. The visuals are pretty good, save for a few low-grade bits here and there.
In all, a movie that you can watch and not think about much later, but only if horror-comedy is your thing.