'Shivalinga' comes from P.Vasu and Raghava Lawerence, the two pioneers of the now extremely popular Horror-comedy genre in Tamil cinema. While the duo have teamed up for the first time that too for the remake of Vasu’s Kannada blockbuster. With the comedy king Vadivelu and the super talented actress Ritika Singh on board, the expectations for the film among family audience was huge. Let's see how the film has lived up to its promise.
Raheem (Sakthivel Vasu) is a kind hearted innocent cook. He is murdered during a train journey by a mysterious person. The police close the case registering it as a suicide. However his lover Sangeetha believes Raheem is not a coward to commit suicide. On her insistence, the police transfer the case to the CBCID and the higher official of the department (Madhuvanthi) deputes an expert officer Shivalingeshwar aka Shivalinga (Raghava Lawrence) to investigate the case.
Shivalinga marries Sathya (Ritika Singh) and shifts to a new bungalow in Vellore to investigate the murder. Sara, a pigeon owned by Rahim gives some initial clues in Shivalinga's investigation. Later Sathya is possessed by Rahim’s spirit and it refuses to leave her until Shivalinga finds the murderer and punishes him.
Who has killed Raheem and what is the reason behind that? Why does Raheem's spirit choose Sathya’s body? What is her connection with Raheem? All these are revealed in Shivalinga’s investigation
'Shivalinga' is a murder mystery cum horror thriller and it definitely has strong hangover of Vasu’s previous films in both genres as well as Lawrence's 'Kanchana' series. The story is as old as the ones belonging to the Tamil films of 1990s and the presentation has so many clichéd elements.
The horror element is hardly spooky as the motifs used to convey the existence and activities of the ghost are rank clichéd. However this part is saved and made watchable by the way Ritika Singh has carried off the possessed character and also Sakthivel Vasu as the spirit himself.
Likewise in the murder mystery plot, the script writer (Vasu) has worked hard to retain the suspense element till the end by bringing in so many characters and angles. But the reason for the murder revealed in the climax is weak and something that most of the regular movie watching audience would have predicted much earlier in the film. The revelation sequence also has strong traces of Vasu's 'Malabar Police' and Lawrence's 'Kanchana'.
But despite all these, what makes 'Shivalinga' a watchable fare is its neat commercial packaging with ample comedy-with Vadivelu in great form, horror sequences that do not have anything new in content but manage to make an impact with its presentation and performances and the suspense element over the murder retained till the end.
In short the film may not work for audience who would seek something new in the script and the ones who would give importance to logic. But the film will appeal to the masses especially the family audience as the director Vasu has packaged 'Shivalinga' with ample comedy, horror and thriller elements in a way that would satisfy the masses. Raghava Lawrence fits the role of a macho investigative cop with a mass hero appeal. He is as usual brilliant in dance and fights sequences and does a fairly good job in comedy and emotional sequences. But one cannot deny that he imitates his idol, Superstar Rajinikanth's mannerisms in many instances throughout the film.
Ritika gets makes a chilling impact with her performance as well as some surprisingly horrific getups in the horror sequences. However in other scenes she just comes off as yet another glam doll heroine.
Sakthivel Vasu has given a good account of himself throughout the film. He also dances well and one can hope that he gets the much needed break with this film.
Vadivelu, as Pattukunjam, the thief who gets to live with Lawrence in his house, manages to make us laugh in regular instances throughout the first half and more so in the second half. Watch out for the lengthy comical scene in the second half where he tries to steal Urvashi’s belongings and gets caught. Though this cannot be called as the Vaigaipual's hilarious best it can be easily said that his casting and performance is one of the biggest plusses of the film.
Urvashi as Lawrence's mother makes us feel that she is getting stereotyped in crazy mother characters but she aptly supplements Vadivelu’s comic efforts in the second half.
Bhanupriya, Jayaprakash, Radharavi and the girl who comes as Raheem's lover just fit the bill.
Except the Shivalinga theme song all other songs of Thaman fail to make any positive impact. Rerecording is mostly loud. Cinematography by Sarvesh Murari is colourful and effective. Suresh Urs’s Editing is neat. The graphic works are tacky and they could have been avoided.
Verdict- An otherwise clichéd horror cum murder mystery flick 'Shivalinga' is saved by its packaging as a commercial family entertainer and Vadivelu's comedy.