Cast: Pa.Vijhay, Samuthirakani, Thambi Ramaiah, Yuvina parthavi, Avani Modi, Devayani, Robo Shankar, Joe Malluri, Imman Annachi, Mayilsamy, Vettri
Pa Vijhay who has carved his own niche as a good lyricist has turned director besides donning the role of the hero and producing ‘Strawberry’, which is in the horror genre into which he has tried to incorporate a strong message.
The story has a suspenseful beginning and opens with D’ Sousa (Joe Malluri) practicing some kind of voodoo and telling about how the soul of a human stays at the place of its death for three days and then after the sixteenth day it roams in between the world and the netherworld until exactly on the first anniversary it leaves to the heavenly abode.
The next scene we see Aathi ( Samuthirakani) being hit by a lorry and dropping to the ground in a pool of blood right in front of his seemingly mentally disturbed wife Devyani. A fluffy doll is shown and then the scene cuts to an apparently rich young man Vivek Chand (Vettri) being terrorized by the doll from the previous scene.
A namboodri tells Vivek that a soul is intent on destroying him and advices him to flee out of the country to escape it as it cannot cross the ocean. Saravanan (Pa Vijhay) is a call taxi driver who is booked for a month by a striking young woman Avni Modi who happens to be the daughter of Joe Malluri. Saravanan falls for the young girl and slowly builds a friendship with her.
Avni is a researcher of human souls who wakes them up and then paints them. All this while the doll makes a mysterious appearance in his taxi and some inexplicable things occur and Avni informs Saravanan that a soul is trying to contact him and conducts a séance in which Saravanan finds that the soul is that of a girl Anu.
Why Anu is seeking Saravanan and what are her intentions and how all these characters are connected forms a very interesting 60 % of ‘Strawberry’
Pa Vijhay as Saravanan the call taxi driver fits the bill and does what is necessary and there is nothing much to complain about his acting. The real star of the show is the seven year old Yuvina Parthavi who is very cute and emotes like a pro.
Avni Modi as a mysterious girl is quite convincing and Joe Malluri has different shades to his character and he is effective until his character turns totally grey. Samuthirakani is slowly establishing himself as the best character actor around and ‘Strawberry is one more feather in his cap.
Robo Shankar, Imman Annachi and Mayilswamy succeed in evoking some laughter. Thambi Ramaiah appears in two scenes and stamps his authority. Vettri as Vivek Chand has done a fairly good job.
Taj Noor’s ‘Kaiveesum’ is a haunting number and the ‘Sunday Monday’ song is foot tapping with Pa Vijhay the lyricist scoring full marks. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about Taj’s background score which leaves a lot to be desired. Cinematographer Maara Varman has done a need job in setting the right tones throughout the film.
Pa Vijhay in his debut as producer and director has taken a tragic true life incident as the core of ‘Strawberry’ and has added horror which is today’s flavor to it.
The build up scenes are really good, but are pulled down by the horror visuals and the most damage to the screenplay is done after Joe Malluri’s character turns from a scientific mystic into a soul grabbing tantrik.
Vijay’s social message is relevant and hard hitting which almost convinces one to forgive him for those eighties style ghost images and the ridiculous mumbo jumbo he has made his villain Joe Malluri mouth in the climax sequences.
The graphics are nowhere close to what the present generation moviegoer is used to and this is the major drawback of the film
Verdict : The first half is engaging and in the second half most of little Yuvina’s scenes are genuinely touching.