U Turn is a Kannada language supernatural suspense thriller written and directed by Pawan Kumar. Pawan Kumar blew me away with his amazing low budget Kannada film Lucia. Lucia had twist after twist and I never knew what was going to happen next.
U Turn starts upside down. Literally. We see the divider of a road, and the camera travels along it, but upside down as the opening credits roll. Then the camera does a u-turn and continues to travel the urban highway. Throughout the film there are ‘U’s sprinkled around, both in the visual framing of shots, and horseshoe knockers on doors, etc.
Shraddha Srinath, the star of the film, is introduced to us in a really clever way. Rachana (Srinath) is riding in a rickshaw with her mother, and through their arguing we learn that she’s single, that her mother is pressuring her to marry, that her family is going away on a trip, and thus she will be alone. It’s a really clever bit of writing. She draws the rickshaw driver into the argument, showing us a bit of her moxie and personality.
Rachana is an intern reporter at The Indian Express. She’s working on a story about people who make illegal u-turns on the flyover highway, moving the divider bricks out of the way, but not returning them after they make the turn. She has a homeless guy at the intersection writing down their license plate numbers. She goes to interview one of the drivers but he doesn’t answer the door.
Later that night after she is dropped off from her first date with the crime reporter, Aditya (Dilip Raj), the police come and arrest her.
The police interrogate her as she had written her name in the visitor book, and is the last person to visit a man, found hung in his apartment. They don’t believe her at first that she is a reporter and working on an investigative story. Finally, the young cop, Nayak, listens and checks out her version of events.
Roger Narayan played Nayak and he was my favorite actor in the whole movie. He was great, and had a lot of subtle reactions. You can tell he has a bit of a crush on Rachana, but he plays someone trying to hold it back, but still let’s you see it.
I admire Pawan Kumar for turning some conventions on their head. Rachana is the active heroine of the script, and later her boyfriend Aditya takes on the ‘damsel in distress’ role, and she tries to save him. Shraddha Srinath did a good job carrying the film, and while he doesn’t have as much screen time, Dilip Raj shone in his supporting role.
I saw U Turn in a theater, and while there were a few jumps that scared me, the film just didn’t have enough suspense or thrills for me. It’s based on a real incident, evidently, but the film did not have the magic of Lucia for me.
Part of the problem was the score. The background music is critical in a suspense film, and this music just did not evoke the creepiness or scariness that it should. The recent low budget Tamil film Pizza had not only music but a soundscape that added greatly to the creepiness.
Don’t believe me what a difference music and soundscape can make? Watch this Scary Mary Poppins trailer with some different music:
U Turn is a good film, but it just wasn’t as scary and creepy as I was hoping it would be, or as mind-bending as Lucia.
Three and a half stars out of five.