'Devaki' review: An interesting thriller

Devaki

Director: Lohith H

Cast: Priyanka Upendra, Aishwarya Upendra, Kishore

Stars: 3.5/5

Devaki, the second collaboration of director-actor duo Lohith H and Priyanka Upendra, poses the age-old yet important question to the Kannada audience. How receptive are we to watching films without a male lead?  

While his encouraging debut Mummy dealt with horror, Lohith’s sophomore flick is a thriller that’s mostly satisfying. Devaki (Priyanka), a single parent in Kolkata, is desperate to find her daughter Aaradhya (Aishwarya Upendra), who goes missing one evening. The film moves from one point to another with great control courtesy the strong narration.  

Right from the first shot, Devaki commands your attention with its excellent use of the backdrop. Through the lens of the experienced HC Venu, every layer of the City of Joy is brilliantly captured. The towering Howrah Bridge, typical busy streets of the city, the homeless thousands, iconic old buildings and famous Sonagachi, which makes you flinch, all have a role in the story as Devaki grows on you.

Lohith is very focused and takes further liberties with the commercial Kannada cinema template. There is just one song (situational) and no patience-testing fight sequences. The minor twists apart, it’s the introduction of a medical angle that turns Devaki more interesting.

However, Lohith takes this angle too far and towards the end, Devaki becomes an emotional saga which is a drawback. The popular mother-sentiment idea doesn’t blend well with the overall tone of the film. The problem lies in how the earlier scenes are directed. The mother-daughter relationship appears staged than organic. Kannada cinema hasn’t mastered the art of depicting everyday conversations in a convincing manner. The industry must invest in talented child artistes. Nobin Paul’s background score is ear-splitting and a major let down.

But these are small flaws. Kishore, as the police officer handling the case, is expectedly terrific. Priyanka is earnest but for the most part, she is in tears. We wonder if she could have brought out other facets like anxiety, fear and the pain of a single mother separated from her daughter. Thankfully, she makes it up in the final scene. That’s a promising sign for film-makers looking to write roles for her.

Devaki, after Bell Bottom, is another thriller that deserves a watch in the theatres.

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