In Iru Dhuruvam, a nine-part mini-series based on serial killings in the city of Chennai, the killer carves the number ‘6’ on the bark of a tree where a victim is tied up and ready to face his wrath.
The ‘6’ we learn is a reference to the sixth verse in the ‘Thirukkural’ and these references to the literary masterpiece act as the ‘signatures’ the killer leaves at his various murder scenes. It is also pertinent here that it was in the sixth episode that this story really started catching speed and also catching my interest!
Victor Selladurai (the terrific Nandaa) is a disgraced cop, who has to deal with wild accusations in his professional circles of being responsible for killing his own wife (Geetha played by Abhirami Venkatachalam). The fact is that his wife has been missing for a few months now and Victor is torn by this trauma.
Faced now with having to tend alone to his young daughter at home, his demeanour seems to have turned cold and he is now a man of few words. He was not always like this. We get a glimpse of his cheerful past through short black and white montages during the course of each episode. Now, the colour seems to have been drained away from his life!
An encouraging superior who still has faith, tasks him with the investigation of a rather gory murder in the heart of the city. Alarmingly, these killings seem to multiply and it becomes clear that a psychopath serial killer is on the prowl.
The first few segments seemed to be highly templatized in terms of the writing approach. I could see the writers trying to fit in various clichés of this genre, almost to a painful extent. I was worried that they were falling into the ‘Formula’ trap and to say the first few episodes were a slow burn is an understatement.
As mentioned earlier, the story really takes off from the sixth episode on though. It’s almost like the Writer/Director Kumaran rips himself free of whatever imaginary shackles that may have been holding him back!
The streaming platform SonyLiv decided to release all nine episodes of this series in one go. In hindsight, this was an inspired move, as to be brutally honest, the series ran the risk of being written off after the early few episodes. What we get from the sixth episode on though is something quite phenomenal in terms of the writing and entertainment.
Sample this scene where Victor and his side-kick Kishore (played superbly by Abdool) seek the help of an elderly neighbourhood resident, to identify a vehicle that the killer may have once parked in front of his gate. This sequence is simply scintillating and the elderly man’s character is probably one of the most memorable ones I’ve seen on screen in a while!
The Victor-Kishore partnership also slowly grows on you and you really start rooting for them. The brief comic interludes provided by Kishore, against the backdrop of the stone-faced Victor are quite hilarious, especially the one sequence towards the end with Kishore’s annoying ringtone blaring out at the tensest and inopportune moments!
Ultimately, the success of content in this genre depends on how effectively the antagonist is able to match up to the protagonist in their cat and mouse chase (or is this vice-versa)!
Initially, I had my doubts on if the writers would really be able to pull this off here..and boy, was I wrong! The final episode of the series is aptly titled ‘Mind Games’ and the killer and Victor are engaged in a terrific battle of wits. The mind games are probably being played partly on us, the viewers, as just as we think a battle is won, we realize that another is already underway.
Watch out for a couple of stunning revelations here, one about the killer and another about a rather nondescript character that I didn’t quite see coming at all!
Technically elevating in all respects, the series sets high standards as far as Production Values are concerned. Raja Bhaktavatchalam’s visuals and Surya Prasadh’s score stand out and special mention also for the Production Design team, whose work is authentic and top-notch considering the limited budget they might have had at their disposal.
Web streaming as a medium is in its relative infancy in our parts and it’s probably too early to say if the likes of Iru Dhuruvam will be the ‘serial killers’ of mainstream cinema! On the contrary, what is certain though, is that this medium is giving a new lease of life to actors and writers who are talented, but have not figured in the mainstream ‘Kollywood’ scheme of things as often as we would have liked.
Iru Dhuruvam does finally manage to achieve what it set out to and I for one definitely hope to see Victor and Kishore in Season 2 pretty soon!
Shrikanth is a Chartered Accountant, who keenly follows and writes about cinema when he is not crunching numbers or balancing ledgers! You can find more of his work at Non Linear Plot
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