Director: Gautham Ramachandran
Cast: Nivin Pauly, Natraj, Shraddha Srinath, Lakshmipriya, Prakash Raj, Kumaravel
The name’s Richie and he’s a bit of a mystery. A journalist played by Shraddha Srinath is on a mission to unmask this person. For Kaka Peter (Kumaravel), Richie (Nivin Pauly) comes across as a thug hired by a goon Isaac Annachi. This is particularly sensitive as Annachi had almost killed him once. Then there’s Murugesh (Aadukalam Murugadoss), for whom Richie is an understanding friend. Richie also has Raghu (Raj Bharath), an ex-friend who now sees him more as a hindrance. And finally, there’s Richie’s dad Sagayam (Prakash Raj,) a clergyman who’s a bit disconnected with the proceedings.
These are the characters, and each one has a unique situation and relationship to Richie. Timing plays a key role here and for their own reasons, Richie’s relations abandon him in his time of need. Peter has the big fish Issac to worry about due to his negligence. Raghu meanwhile is hiding a highly valued statue from these same gang members, implicating his family in the process and putting them in danger as well. If things don’t seem jumbled enough, another character Selvam (Natty) arrives and is in search of new beginnings. He’s attracted to Peter’s sister Philomina (Lakshmi Priyaa), and this has its own consequences for Richie. How he reacts to these events and how the journalist in turn tracks all of this forms the reminder.
Directed by Gautham Ramachandran, Richie can be read like a book. Each phase of the film is distinct with its own subplots and curiosities. Although these characters are after material goals, the underlying peace and satisfaction that they desperately seek seems to elude them at every turn. Nivin Pauly does a commendable job as Richie but his accent compromises his thuggish nature. Shraddha Srinath has a limited role compared to her Kannada counterpart Tara. Natty as the guy looking for a break surprisingly gets significant screen presence, and he utilizes it very well. Prakash Raj, Lakshmi Priyaa, Kumaravel, Aadukalam Murugadoss, and the rest get a noticeable share and they’ve done good.
Technically, Richie is very stylized and even a bit raw at times. Cinematography by Pandi Kumar lays the groundwork, and Ajaneesh Loknath’s score compliments this very well. Although significantly shorter in duration than the original Ulidavaru Kandanthe, we cannot really say it is a well-crafted film and is bit too simplistic at times. The story and screenplay is a bit chaotic especially in the first half and seems to sense only post interval. There’s a good bet that a majority of Tamil audiences haven’t seen the original, and for them, this film may be an interesting experimentation in subplots.