Verdict: Nayanthara’s horror flick is a well-executed revenge story and leaves a good impression.

Airaa is finally out as it has been the much-awaited release of Tamil’s female superstar Nayanthara. Produced by Kotapadi J. Rajesh and directed by Sarjun KM, the film has been cast cleverly, with Nayanthara in a dual role, Kalaiyarasan, Yogi Babu, and Kulappulli Leela in major roles. The film uses improvised and innovative horror cinematographic techniques and is a fresh approach towards horror film narration.

What’s Airaa About:

Aira starts with Yamuna (Nayanthara), an ambitious and talented young journalist, who wants to make it big in life. However, her boss shuts her idea of starting a YouTube channel and she eventually quits her job to pursue her idea independently. In a parallel story, we see Yamuna’s parents forcing her to get into an arranged marriage. Yamuna leaves her job and family and goes away to her hometown to live with her aunt Parvathi paati (Kulapully Leela). Her aunt lives in a palatial house with Gothic architecture, and Yamuna uses it to her advantage. She makes horror films based on a haunted house, and her YouTube channel becomes a huge hit. But what starts off as make-believe, it takes a turn when the house is actually haunted by a real ghost. This is followed by edgy horror sequences, entwined with revenge stories and other social issues.

What Works:

Airaa touches upon multiple themes and social issues. It starts with how modern independent young women are often slut-shamed, how many choose money and fame over passion, how the system seems hopelessly dysfunctional and corrupt, followed by sexual violence faced by women in our society. All these ideas are weaved together in a horror theme with the butterfly effect as a narrative technique. It talks about how small mistakes have bigger impacts on lives and what goes around always comes around. Airaa establishes a sense of poetic justice, hence it is a revenge horror drama that leaves your conscience satisfied. It goes without saying that Nayanthara is the highlight of the film. Her Yamuna is a brave, independent go-getter, while Bhavani is beautifully portrayed as the weak, voiceless, and underprivileged woman. Kalayairasan as Amudhan delivers an incredible performance as he singlehandedly builds the tension and conflict in the first half of the plot. Yogi Babu successfully brings out the comic relief in this heavy plot. Kulappulli Leela as Parvathi paati nails the role of a blind woman who can sense the paranormal activities in the house. The way Parvathi paati equips herself to overpower the supernatural forces forms an interesting part of the plot.

What Could’ve Been Better:

Director Sarjun KM successfully manages to evoke horror throughout the film although with a few quintessential horror elements like jump scares, shadows, ghost in the white dress, a violent past in black and white, and a child ghost who runs around at night with a strange laugh. There are less innovative horror elements used in the film.

Why You Should Watch:

Airaa is a wonderful concept delivered through a horror tale. It discusses a lot of prevalent social issues and is thought-provoking and eye-opening in many ways. While Bhavani’s character is the depressing reality, Yamuna becomes the hope for a better future. The entire cast and crew have done a fabulous job and Airaa is a must-watch for the horror fans as well as Nayanthara fans.