Selva Raghavan’s idea and vision behind ‘Yugaaniki Okkadu’ breaks free from all traditional conventions of how regional cinema is made in South India. The film never tries to appease the audience with candyfloss or simplistic sequences. This alone makes watching this film quite a challenge because you are expected to do a lot more than just ‘watch’ the film without using your brain. It expects you to think and understand the impact of calamity portrayed on screen and its relevance in the world today. Truth be told, these days film makers hardly ever attempt to tread down this path and as a result deliver ‘perishable’ products which deliver momentary results. This is exactly where ‘Yugaaniki Okkadu’ aligns itself differently and will remain as a truly ‘Yugaaniki Oka Cinema’. No Pun intended.
The story of ‘Yugaaniki Okkadu’ is a roller coaster ride which transports us to a whole new mysterious world filled with medieval tribes who don’t tolerate any form of intrusion on their lands. Right from the moment when the rescue team enters the island, bad omen haunts them like a shadow and continues to do so for a long time. Selva teases us with a bizarre mix of sequences which make it hard to empathize with the characters in the initial part of the film. The fear of unknown is very well established in the first half of the film and almost all the actors deliver credible performances. At a time when discontinuity between scenes mars the emotional graph of first half, Selva pitches in some cleverly written scenes which take the rescue team closer to their destination. The film’s biggest strength, however, lies in the second half which is both gut-wrenching as well as spell-binding. Almost all the characters reveal their true identity which makes the story leap out of the pages and assume larger importance rather than merely being a rescue mission. It is exactly here when ‘Yugaaniki Okkadu’ fiddles with themes like clash of civilizations, forgotten rivalries, hidden motives, racism, torture, subjugation of the weak by the strong. Revealing what this is all about would be blasphemy and you wouldn’t want me to commit that mistake.
Of the star cast, Karthi Shivkumar is more than just impressive. He’s strong, believes in leading a carefree life while being oblivious to the fact that he’s destined to be a leader. One of the best scenes in the film has Karthi just staring intently while fighting for his life in an arena. He may just be one film old, but with these two films he proves that a new star has born in the South. Andreah Jeremiah is good in her meek role who’s concerned about her father. Andreah’s on screen chemistry with Karthi is great and she carries herself quite confidently. It is however, Reema Sen who leaves an indelible impression in the film in her role as a maverick police officer. What’s more interesting is her sexually liberated characterization with loads of attitude. Parthiban also delivers a credible performance.
The film however, isn’t without flaws especially in the first half. Most part of the story is narrated through flashes of images rather than a defined form. The epic battle between the rescue team and the people in Lost Kingdom could have been handled in a better way. Also, there are several questions which are left unanswered and the excessive gore and violence is frightening.