The moment of truth for director Karthik Subburaj has arrived. After making numerous short-films that received wide appreciation on the internet, he attempts to try his hand at making one for a bigger screen and a wider audience with his first venture Pizza.
The movie revolves around Michael played by Vijay Sethupathi, who works as a delivery boy for a pizzeria. He is in a live-in relationship with his high school sweetheart Anu, Remya Nambeesan, who is an aspiring fiction writer, specifically of the horror genre that she follows very intently.
Things begin to take a rash turn for Michael, first with the unexpected pregnancy of Anu that forces him into wedlock and then with a routine late evening delivery.
The first half begins by taking its time to set up the central characters, Michael and Anu, and their romance. Their chemistry is sweet but it doesn’t set the screen on fire. The action truly starts with Michael’s forsaken delivery, where the director successfully draws the audience into the haunted house and immerses them into his fears. When the intermission bell rings, the movie will have you guessing the various possibilities of the script unfolding but you will have to wait till most of the second half to pass before you find out if your guess was right. Revealing any more would be an absolute crime to the movie and the film maker, but one thing is for sure, the director does pull a rabbit out of his hat!
Remya Nambeesan looks the part of a girl next door but one might feel a little more attention could have been given to her makeup. She plays her part effectively. Vijay Sethupathi will be banking on this film to be his big ticket and has delivered a performance that can back it up. His character demands fear and vulnerability but with brief bursts of courage and he has certainly lived up to its expectations. The supporting cast including Naren, Pooja, Jaykumar and Veera Sethuraman deliver convincing performances. There are few comical moments but its treatment is very subtle.
Director Karthik Subburaj plays all the cards required to make a quality horror suspense film with a thrilling screenplay, deft camerawork, strong performances, eerie sound effects and music. Fortunately for him they all come out as aces. Gopi Amarnath’s cinematography is excellent in the way he frames his romantic sequences and the manner in which he uses his camera to sneak around in the haunting sequences. Music is an integral part of the film and it gels well with the screenplay. Some songs are situational, like Gana Bala’s blues jazz track which is played out as a cell phone ringtone! The much talked about 7.1 surround serves up as more than just a marketing tool. The transition of eerie sound effects from one side of the hall to the other is smooth and adds to the suspense. Another strong reason to go watch this film in the theatres!
Debutant director Karthik Subburaj creates an impression by employing a simple story telling technique of subversion so effectively to produce a gripping story that will make you hold your breath and later heave a huge sigh (of relief). There are traits of a short film like the usage of a lean cast and trim production but the intentions and its execution are surely aimed for a grander stage.
This sort of progressive filmmaking will come as a welcome addition to the industry as well as the audience and for that we’ll say - well played Karthik Subburaj!
Go buy a ticket and enjoy the ride!
Verdict: Pizza – Place your order and prepare to be thrilled!