Samantha Akkineni gives an endearing performance of a clueless person caught in the middle of a mystery.

U Turn movie cast: Samantha Akkineni, Rahul Ravindran, Bhumika Chawla
U Turn movie director: Pawan Kumar
U Turn rating: 3.5 stars

In U Turn, director Pawan Kumar sets the pace and mood of the story with the opening shot. An upside-down camera moves along the chain of roadblocks that divide the traffic flow on a busy flyover. The movement is rapid but steady. It is also philosophical considering the theme of the movie: karma will catch up with you, almost instantly. If you are a fan of Stranger Things, you are likely to read more into the camera angle, upside down, which suggest a horrifying parallel universe. The camera stops at a point, where the order of the roadblocks has been disrupted by somebody to create an illegal U Turn. The angle turns the right way up, suggesting the film is moving into the real world filled with flawed human beings.

Rachana (Samantha Akkineni) an intern with a newspaper has been chasing a story. It is a story about traffic offenders who move roadblocks on the RK Nagar flyover to create a short-cut. She has been collecting the vehicle numbers of such offenders from her source, a homeless man living on the side of the flyover. One day she goes to an offender’s residence to interview the person. She knocks on the door and gets no response. She leaves.

Rachana goes about her daily life. Her shy office crush Aditya (Rahul Ravindran) finally takes her out on a movie date. She returns home very happy. But, her happiness is short-lived as she becomes a primary accused in a case of a mysterious death. The plot thickens, when she finds out the traffic offenders she was tracking have all been killed. Her only ray of hope is police officer Nayak (effortlessly played by Aadhi Pinisetty), who believes in her innocence. His senior officer wants the case to be closed by any means due to political pressure. And his subordinates lack patience. Nayak is the only person in uniform who has the patience and interest to take the case to its logical conclusion.

Director Pawan told Indianexpress.com that making U Turn the second time gave him mixed feelings. He said the magic moments that happened during the shooting of the original Kannada version did not happen in the remake. But, the ‘magic moments’ have been compensated by the director’s precision and clarity in the narration. The Kannada version largely worked because the way Pawan builds up the suspense from the opening scene. In hindsight, the horror part of the film did not receive the due importance. Pawan, who is also the writer, has raised the stakes really high towards the end in the remake. After a point, it felt like I was watching the movie for the first time.

Pawan has fixed all shortcomings in the remake. While firmly keeping the aspect of suspense intact, he has also built on the mystery and horror elements in the story. As the director mentioned in the interview, the experienced star cast adds to the edge of the seat thriller. Samantha gives an endearing performance of a clueless person caught in the middle of a mystery. Though Shraddha Srinath did a good job in Kannada, Samantha delivers a better performance as an obsessive truth-seeker who puts herself in danger for some answers. Aadhi also scores points with his composed yet agitated performance as a wise police officer.

I’d love to discuss Bhumika Chawla’s performance as Maya. But, I can’t do it without revealing some spoilers. I will just say that her onscreen presence adds to the mystery.

I don’t recall watching such a neat investigative-mystery-horror-thriller in recent times.

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