Siddharth has established himself as an indie darling over the span of his career. With a breakout starring role in S Shankar’s ‘Boys,’ Siddharth has since mostly invested his efforts in smaller budget films within the Tamil industry. ‘Kadhalil Sodhappuvadhu Yeppadi,’ ‘Jigarthanda,’ 'Ennakul Oruvan' and ‘Jil Jung Juk’ are some of the indie gambles which either proved successful or have garnered cult status over time. His latest feature film, which was also produced under his production company, is ‘Chithha’ - a haunting, edge-of-the-seat family drama/thriller.
The film’s opening scene is filled with intention, setting out exactly the type of film the viewer is in for. ‘Chithha’ is unflinching, refusing to shy away from unsavoury and uncomfortable topics. It follows Siddharth’s character Eeswaran, affectionately called ‘Chithha’ by his niece Sundari (played by Sahasra Sree). We discover the delicate nature of their relationship, and are introduced to the surrounding characters that feature in their life. This is all upended when an unexpected tragedy strikes, pulling everyone involved into heartrending uncertainty. The film delves into the disturbed, and contains sequences which are emotionally and psychologically painful. After the interval, 'Chithha' shifts gears and becomes a tense cat-and-mouse game where the stakes are extremely palpable.
The film is an uncomfortable watch, succeeding in filling the viewer with anxiety. The entire cast played their parts adequately. Sahasra Shree is the standout performer, keeping up with her adult co-stars with ease. Nimisha Sajayan’s Sakthi is also a thoughtfully written character, a part the actress plays well. Siddharth - other than in one moment - is wholly convincing in the role of Eeswaran.
The director, SU Arun Kumar, does a fine job at ensuring every facet of filmmaking aids the storytelling, The cinematography is carefully considered and sometimes breathtaking; following the wet footsteps of slippered feet, and capturing the natural beauty of a foggy Pazhani hillside. The dialogue is well-written and thought provoking. One scene in particular was reminiscent of the pivotal scene from Kamal Haasan’s ‘Mahanadhi,’ which undoubtedly was an inspiration.
The music of the film comes courtesy of Dhibu Ninan Thomas and Santhosh Narayanan (who take care of the musical numbers) and Vishal Chandrasekhar (who takes on the score). Although the score and songs often slip into the melodramatic, it does not detract too much from the intensity of the film. Once again, one wonders how much queasier the film could have been with a more experimental score.
Overall, ‘Chithha’ tears out the viewer’s heart and holds it ransom - an impressive feat. SU Arun Kumar has delivered a gut-wrenching thriller, displaying a little horror whilst insinuating a lot. Other similar titles I would recommend are ‘Mahanadhi’ and ‘Kaadhal Konden.’
Krishna's rating: 3.5 stars
Official trailer for film below.