Cast: Sai Pallavi, Naga Shaurya, Baby Veronica Arora, Nizhalgal Ravi, RJ Balaji and Rekha
If you’re a fan of the Sai Pallavi you saw in Premam, let me warn you that you see a very different version of her in Vijay’s Diya, which was earlier titled Karu. The film marks her Tamil debut and Pallavi makes an assured debut, coming up with the kind of performance that may not be largely appealing but quite convincing, given her character. She plays a mother to a four-year old daughter. The film explores the bond, in a psychological tone, between Pallavi and her unborn daughter.
Vijay’s Diya talks about the sensitive issue of abortion, about pro-life and pro-choice. The premise is built on a flimsy line. In the opening scene, we see Pallavi and Naga Shaurya, a young couple, waiting in a hospital veranda. It’s worth mentioning that the name of the hospital is Hope hospital. They are soon called in and informed that Pallavi is pregnant, but both of them are still in college and are unsure whether they should keep the baby or abort it. A decision gets taken and it paves way to some unexpected events which form the crux of the story.
It’s worthy of Vijay to even attempt to tell a story on pro-life and pro-choice debate. To give it a horror angle is even more exciting, but the director doesn’t make the film engaging enough to make us quiver in our seats. Important characters get killed one after another but these deaths don’t quite send chills down our spines. In a horror film, it’s very important build the tension and scare factor gradually, but it’s missing in Diya, making the overall experience underwhelming at times.
In a moody role, Sai Pallavi plays a character that’s dead from within, but it does not reflect on her face. It’s a very matured performance and one that won’t be easily forgotten. She rarely smiles throughout the film, which is well elevated by Sam CS’s score and music.
Naga Shaurya in his Tamil debut isn’t effective as he is usually in Telugu. Maybe it’s got to do more with his role. Baby Veronica is another impressive find by Vijay, who is known for his association with child actors over the years.
Diya can’t be written off as a passable horror-thriller. It deserves to be watched because it shines the spotlight on a sensitive topic which needs to be addressed more openly. Despite the film’s banal take on the issue, it’s still a praise-worthy attempt to engage audiences with something important and not just look at cinema as an entertainment medium.