Kolla Movie Review: Suraj Varma's 'Kolla' (Rajisha Vijayan, Vinay Forrt, Priya Varrier) has an interesting premise, but is content to remain vaguely watchable

Sooraj Varma
Kolla Movie Review

Kolla Movie Cast & Crew

Production : Rajeesh Productions
Director : Sooraj Varma
Music Director : Shaan Rahman

Two women come to a small town to set up a beauty parlour – but this being a Bobby-Sanjay story, you know there is more to them than meets the eye. Rajisha Vijayan and Priya Varrier play Annie and Shilpa. Let’s look at the way they are introduced. The camera is inside an empty shop (that is the place they want to set up the beauty parlour). And as the shutter is slowly raised and light floods in, we see these two women on the other side: feet-first, then slowly upwards till we finally see their faces. Two things are interesting here. One, this is the sort of "reveal" that is reserved for mass-heroes, and it's fun to see the technique applied to female actors. And two, the slowness with which these two characters are introduced, visually, hints at the fact that we are going to get to know them very slowly. With Annie and Shilpa, what we see is not what we get.

Suraj Varma's Kolla – at its best moments – plays like an Agatha Christie mystery, a sleepy investigation set in a sleepy town. The detective-equivalent is the cop played by Vinay Forrt, and he is out to solve a bank robbery. Where do Annie and Shilpa fit in? What is their connection with the character played by Alencier Ley Lopez? What is the importance of the information that Annie and Shilpa grew up in a shelter? Why does Annie put herself at risk trying to stop an attack on a young man chased by his girlfriend's relatives? What is the significance of the blue and orange colour scheme, seen on Annie and Shilpa's clothes to the walls of their shop to even a basket of oranges on a boat whose insides are painted blue? And thinking back, does the big twist at the end deliver the requisite emotional payoff?

Kolla is an elegantly staged film, filled with intriguing questions and unsatisfying answers. There are some nice writing touches, like the flashbacks that occur in reverse chronological order and slowly let us into details about the planning of the robbery – and also about the characters. But apart from a cop being pressured to get married, none of the people in this story have any depth or dimension: Shilpa, especially, is terribly underwritten. As a result, none of the performances rise above the competent level. I am not asking for something that makes me bite my nails like the Drishyam movies. But even in a deliberately paced thriller, you want some level of involvement. And that's missing. Even a solid aha! detective moment involving a bucket of water does not leave us with an aha! feeling. The story has so much potential, but it stays on paper. If "vaguely watchable" is a verdict, Kolla would be a prime candidate.

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Baradwaj Rangan

National Award-winning film critic Baradwaj Rangan, former deputy editor of The Hindu and senior editor of Film Companion, has carved a niche for himself over the years as a powerful voice in cinema, especially the Tamil film industry, with his reviews of films. While he was pursuing his chemical engineering degree, he was fascinated with the writing and analysis of world cinema by American critics. Baradwaj completed his Master’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations through scholarship. His first review was for the Hindi film Dum, published on January 30, 2003, in the Madras Plus supplement of The Economic Times. He then started critiquing Tamil films in 2014 and did a review on the film Subramaniapuram, while also debuting as a writer in the unreleased rom-com Kadhal 2 Kalyanam. Furthermore, Baradwaj has authored two books - Conversations with Mani Ratnam, 2012, and A Journey Through Indian Cinema, 2014. In 2017, he joined Film Companion South and continued to show his prowess in critiquing for the next five years garnering a wide viewership and a fan following of his own before announcing to be a part of Galatta Media in March 2022.