R Ajay Gnanamuthu’s Imaikkaa Nodigal is proof that Tamil filmmakers do not tire of the serial killer genre even if they have nothing new to add to it. Gnanamuthu devotes a whopping, and eventually tiresome, 170 minutes to an overdone cat-and-mouse game between a psychopath and a police officer. Even his interesting casting choices – director and occasional actor Anurag Kashyap as the killer pursued by a female Central Bureau of Investigation police officer played by Nayanthara instead of the cliched male hero – cannot salvage a script that intrinsically lacks fresh ideas.

All the action is set in Bengaluru, depicted as a largely Tamil-speaking city. Bloodthirsty Rudra (Kashyap) has already committed two murders by the time CBI officer Anjali (Nayanthara) begins to chase him. As is the norm in this genre, despite Anjali’s best efforts, Rudra always manages to slip away each time, leaving behind a series of severely mutilated victims.

The murders seem similar to the ones committed by another serial killer, also named Rudra, whom Anjali had killed five years ago. Rudra is back, asserts Kashyap’s extremely verbose character, making the entire police department and the media doubt Anjali’s credentials.

For some reason, Gnanamuthu feels that the mood needs to be lightened. A wholly unnecessary distraction from the intense contest is created in the form of a romance between Anjali’s brother Arjun (Atharvaa Murali) and aspiring model Krithika (Raashi Khanna).

Imaikkaa Nodigal (2018).

The plot grows more absurd in the second half, with the movie suffering from a case of too much of everything. The plot twists are endless, nearly every character gets a long and convoluted back story, and the resolution is not convincing.

The promise of offering something new by casting a heroine instead of a hero is lost as the film drags along. Nayanthara’s officer gets to give the instructions, but when it comes to fighting the villains, Arjun does all the pummelling. Elaborate action sequences devoted to Atharvaa’s rage and muscles bring the movie in line with the average male-centric film.

Nayanthara and Vijay Sethupathi, who appears in an extended cameo, are among the only actors who deliver layered performances. Kashyap is over the top as the killer, and is offered stiff competition by the eternally angry Atharvaa.