Suzhal: The Vortex

Suzhal: The Vortex may not be that entirely foolproof thriller that you will appreciate for its attention to detail. But this series from Pushkar -Gayathri knows how to play the game emotionally. Directed by Bramma and Anucharan, Suzhal is an engagingly-paced thriller that focuses beyond the thrills of being a whodunit.

The series is set in the backdrop of this hilly small town. A factory that is on the verge of a shutdown is now a scene of a dispute between the owners and the laborers. The police, led by Regina Thomas, has taken the owners’ side, and the union leader Shanmugam and his people are on the other side. On the evening after the strike, a major fire accident happens at the factory, and on the same night, Shanmugam’s younger daughter goes missing. What we see in this series is two parallel investigations of these two incidents.

It is not that easy to write whodunit thrillers these days. The audience is exposed to so many thrillers that the moment they know the nature of the story, they will put almost every character on their list of suspects. The culprit in Suzhal is not a character that would have escaped our list. But the smart thing about Suzhal is that by the time it reaches the point where the series would reveal the person, it manipulates us into looking at the victim empathetically.

What makes Suzhal engaging is the writing that places twists and tweaks at the end and middle of each episode to keep us invested in the story. The missing girl story has some really bizarre-looking twists that would make us wonder how the script will move from that point. But a back story or parallel narrative would pop up at those points to make the plot intriguing. I liked the fact that Pushkar and Gayathri used the nature of the twists to look at the judgemental nature of human beings. Sakkarai is pretty much the audience representative in the story, and he is the one who, at one point, exclaims how little he knew about the people around him.

The elaborate character pool is a thing with almost every web series, and marking every character in that pool identifiable is actually a challenging task. Suzhal was able to do that bit very effectively. The festival and the factory are the core elements that support the village, and they have placed those elements constantly in the backdrop. The writing has also tried to put contradicting characters as a pair. Shanmugam is an atheist, while his wife is a firm God believer. Sakkarai wants to live in the village, while Nandini intends to leave the town.

Having said all this, I am not saying it is a phenomenal series. The usual creative liberty you ignore in the movie format is also visible in Suzhal. There is a moment when a smartphone is unlocked without any password. Some of the distracting detours are given too much runtime. And I have to say that this moral of the story type writings that appear at the end of movies should not be there in series’. It just feels like underestimating the empathy inside a viewer.

In his extensive role as Sakkarai, Kathir maintains a level of energy that practically holds the series. Aishwarya Rajesh as Nandini gets a character with a build-up and also some interesting backstory. R Parthiban as Shanmugam was extremely convincing, and the series effectively uses his commanding screen presence. My favorite performance was from Sriya Reddy as Inspector Regina. On one side, she has the attire of a superstar cop, while the maternal characteristics make that character a lot more humane. Thanneer Mathan Dinangal fame Gopika Ramesh plays the crucial role of Nila, and the girl was really impressive. Harish Uthaman, Elango Kumaravel, Premkumar, Santhana Bharathi, Nivedithaa Sathish, Fedrick John, etc., are the other major names in the star cast.

Even though it isn’t achieving a mind-blowing conclusion, Pushkar Gayathri’s Suzhal: The Vortex has done its worldbuilding part very neatly. You find yourself constantly interested in solving the puzzle, and the series occasionally surprises you by breaking your prediction fairly early. Sam CS’s music also helps the series in maintaining that intensity. A less preachy treatment would have been a lot more appealing. But this one knows how to keep the viewer interested in the narrative.

Final Thoughts

Suzhal has done its worldbuilding part very neatly. You find yourself constantly interested in solving the puzzle, and the series occasionally surprises you by breaking your prediction fairly early.

Movie Signal

Green: Recommended Film

Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films

Red: Not Recommended