‘Evaru’: A better adaptation of ‘The Invisible Guest’ than ‘Badla’

“Evaru” (Telugu); Starring Adivi Sesh, Regina Cassandra, Naveen Andrews; Direction: Venkat Ramji; Rating: **** (4 stars)

No matter how cynical you are about suspense thrillers, the end-twist in “Evaru” (which very appropriately means ‘Who Are you’) will leave you stunned to the core.
Frankly I never saw that finale coming. It is a measure of the very adventurous Adivi Sesh’s derring-do that he plunges into the thriller genre once again after the fabulous “Kshanam” (remade in Hindi as the awful “Baaghi 2”) and “Goodachari”, and he still succeeds beyond all expectations in creating a whodunit that stays a step ahead of the audience even if you have seen the Spanish film “The Invisible Guest” and its faithful Hindi remake “Badla” last year.
“Evaru” makes bold departure from the original and yet remains faithful to the original content about an unfaithful woman. This is a masked treatise on marital discontent gone horribly awry. Adivi Sesh plays the kind of seedy greedy cop whose incongruous suaveness would make your blood crawl. He is sent to pre-empt murder accused Regina Cassandra’s grilling in the courtroom — something like , what would you say if the judge throws this accusation at you.
Second-guessing never seemed so seductive. The verbose exchanges between Vikram (Adivi) and Sameera (Regina) are fraught with a smothered fury. You know there is something building up here which is far more explosive than a woman pretending to be a Hitchcockian heroine when her avaricious aspirations are way too low to hit the graceful indiscretions of a classic murder victim
It is hard not to be sucked into the world of crime and infidelity that director Venkat Ramji creates out of the original Spanish film, which I felt was felled by its own self righteous anger. Significantly and perhaps conveniently, “Evaru” builds a case for Sameera’s infidelity by showing her husband to be gay.
This may initially seems like a cop-out in more ways than one, what with the cop-hero outing the gay husband in Sameera’s loveless marriage. But then the plot constructs into a kind of hurling spiral that leaves you with no room to judge the female protagonist kindly or unkindly.
Think Tapsee in “Badla”. That’s Regina Cassandra, icily self-motivated shrugging off her moral responsibilities towards her loveless marital arrangement as she plunges into an extra-marital relationship with the seemingly amoral Ashok (played with a deliberate brimming-at-the-top volatility by Naveen Andrews, which is far more effective than Tony Luke’s whiny infidelity in “Badla”).
But it’s Adivi Sesh whose quietly projected cockiness spreads itself outwards in the plot creating a climate of ominous anxiety, never quite expressed openly until the end when the final twist implodes onto the screenplay in a way I’ve not seen happening in any Indian thriller. Indeed “Evaru” is the smartest thriller in recent times, comparable only with “AndhaDhun”, where the hero made us feel he could or couldn’t see, depending on what he wanted or didn’t want to see.
In “Evaru”, Adivi’s Vikram sees everything. We don’t. It takes us time to see what Vikram does. The moment of recognition is so stunning that the light will blind you. Go, experience the thrill of watching a suspense drama that is at once stylish and persuasive.

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