A CBI officer goes after a ruthless serial killer who the police claim to have killed years ago. However, the investigation becomes personal when he targets her family.
Imaikkaa Nodigal is a 2018 Indian Tamil-language action/thriller musical film that was written and directed by R. Ajay Gnanamuthu.
The film stars Nayanthara, Atharvaa, Raashi Khanna (Ayogya 2019), Vijay Sethupathi (Master, 2021), Manasvi Kottachi, and Anurag Kashyap in prominent roles. The title means Unblinking Seconds. The cinematography was done by R. D. Rajasekhar, edited by Bhuvan Srinivasan, and produced by C. J. Jayakumar. The music was composed by Hiphop Tamizha, a musical duo based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. The duo consists of Adhithya “Adhi” Venkatapathy and R. Jeeva.
WHERE TO WATCH
In the next section, I will share with you how I understood the film with subtitles. Yes, there are going to be major spoilers but I think it’s important to share this perspective because sometimes things can get lost in translation or cultural differences may have an impact on how one interprets the story. I think it’s unfair when this happens with critics that are very quick to judge. Especially with foreign cinema, audiences tend to rely on critics and influencers that sometimes have their own biases or even have no idea about what they are reviewing.
Eventually, I think it’s better to watch it and make your own assessment. Sometimes rewatching is necessary. Afterward, it’s fun to compare with these “critics and influencers” and see how much they got wrong. There is always something. Now, let’s get into the story…
ABOUT THE FILM
Get ready for the game…
THE GAME BEGINS
The film opens with a scene showing a CCTV control room where the operator was shot. From there we understand that the killer is shutting down the cameras to remove evidence. The cameras are aimed at a party where he comes in contact with a girl named Jessica. Suddenly a serial killer disrupts the peaceful town of Bengaluru, Karnataka, India, and coincidentally goes by the same name.
THE FIRST VICTIM
The daughter of an important businessman was kidnapped, and a ransom is demanded. CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) officer Anjali Vikramadithyan, played by Nayanthara, is shown following the businessman who is carrying a luggage bag that is being guided by the kidnapper, played by Anurag Kashyap. She is the officer in charge of the operation to save the victim.
Cleverly he guided the victim to the van where the CBI officers are operating. He then mentioned to the victim how he doesn’t value the life of his daughter because he clearly told him not to involve the police and the CBI in this matter. He plays with the agents and the parents. Until the mother realizes that her daughter caught be in the bag and she was. The father was walking with his dead daughter this whole time. The agents then proceeded to describe how he perpetrates his killings.
We then see Anjali at home with her clever and outgoing small daughter. She is preparing herself to go to school. In the car, she puts on recordings of her husband’s addressing his daughter giving her advice on how to go through life. At that point, we don’t know whether they separated or he died.
As the victims are piling up with the CBI trying to figure out who is doing all this. Rudra declares himself on national television as the deceased Rudra, a sensational serial killer announced dead five years ago and announces that he is now back in action. He taunts how the case was covered by Anjali indicating that maybe she did a poor job. The higher-ups scrutinize her work while her superiors and colleagues testify in favor of her. She points out that it is impossible for Rudra to be alive and points out that this could be the case of a copycat like you see copycats of Jack The Ripper. She takes the charge to bring this copycat to justice.
THE SECOND VICTIM
Anjali’s brother Arjun Prabakar, played by Atharvaa, is having trouble with his girlfriend Krithika Rao, played by Raashi Khanna. She eventually breaks up with him. Arjun is studying to become a doctor working in Chennai and we get a flashback of how they met and how their relationship flourished. In the meantime, Anjali gets a warning that the next victim, the Minister’s son, will fall and has to deal with incompetent subordinates. This time a bomb is involved and a high ransom is requested. This time Rudra wants Anjali to deliver it. He calls her directly to tell her the exact place. In the meantime, she puts a tracker in the bag. Anjali tries to outsmart him, but she couldn’t. The victim was in her car and by the time they get to him he is already dead.
THE THIRD VICTIM
Arjun and his friend Vinoth travel to Bengaluru intending to meet Krithika. They first meet with Anjali. Up next Anjali gets to know that the next victim is Krithika. They tried to save her but during their operation, Arjun horribly enters the scene and gets shot as the potential suspect. Luckily, she is still alive and shifted to the hospital. Anjali is suspended and her family gets under house arrest, where Inspector Narayan takes over the case.
After a series of clues, Arjun deduces that ACP Martin Roy is the new Rudra and is trying to kill Kritika. ACP Roy was the police officer in charge of the Rudra case 5 years ago but as the case was taken over by CBI he was dismissed by the media and his colleagues.
THE REAL RUDRA
He intensively fights with Martin, only to get injured. Martin reveals that he was not the actual Rudra and reveals that Rudra was Anjali. The scene where they found Rudra years ago was staged by her 5 years ago. Feeling betrayed that he was suspended from the case, Martin went rogue where murdered his wife, and staged three murders of high-profile people similar to the ones that Rudra had done.
When Arjun confronts Anjali over being Rudra, she reveals that her real motive was to avenge the death of her husband Vikramadithyan. We get a flashback of their marriage ceremony and their married life. We see a very pregnant Anjali with her husband in the car. He was so excited about his daughter, but he was also sad as he got a job overseas and wouldn’t be with them for long. He started speaking to the baby while Anjali was recording every word.
They were caught in an accident, caused by four drug-addicted young men from wealthy families. Vikramadithyan was in critical condition and Anjali was begging them for help. When they realize that she is an officer, the one we know as Rudra decided that they couldn’t leave them alive. He mercilessly killed Vikramadithyan, while the others were cruelly holding Anjali’s feet. When he was sure Vikramadithyan was dead he even struck Anjali too even though she was pregnant. Anjali survived and gave birth to her daughter Shalini. Even though everything happened in front of a camera nothing was found, and no car was driving by. She knew this when the police were asked for her statement on the accident. She told them she didn’t remember anything. As to be expected one of the police officers went to inform the culprits & their family members who were clearly happy with the turn of events.
Seeing how they would never face the justice system while being guilty, Anjali created the serial killer named Rudra and brutally finished those men responsible for Vikramadithyan’s death. When she kills the last one, she identifies him as Rudra and closed the case. Arjun and Anjali together trap Martin using Narayan who thinks ACP Martin is there to help but finds out evidence, planted by Anjali, that he is the serial killer, Rudra.
During this time, we must remember that Anjali is supposedly still under house arrest. So, Narayan checks whether she is still at her house. Her daughter cleverly made them think that she is. Arjun fights and distracts Martin long enough for Anjali and Narayan to arrive with the CBI force. Narayan shoots Martin dead. Martin’s last words were Good Finish, Anjali told him that had he known the reason why he created Rudra it may have been different. And respectfully told him to rest in peace. Arjun and Krithika reconcile while Shalini listens to a recording of Vikramadithyan’s last words for her.
“For Every good thing which happens in this world, bad things happen too”
“Even behind every syllable, there is love”
The film shows a relatable heroine with a great villain. The film has two storylines that don’t favor the flow of the story. Despite that, it is still a very entertaining and engaging film to watch.
THE IMPERFECT HEROINE
Anjali is not perfect at what she does, what is popularly referred to as Mary Sue in the west, but her agenda is to catch the killer. In her mind, she has Rudra figured out and wants to catch him, while Rudra refers to his victims, by underplaying his intelligence. Anjali is a practical officer that makes mistakes. She doesn’t have all the answers but still tries to get things done.
THE HEROINE VS. THE VILLAIN
Rudra is a great villain. A lot like the music he is so fond of the arc of Rudra is so spectacular that it overshadows the weakest points in the film. Rudra is not your average bad guy. He is a menacing killer. He is the boogeyman that kids are afraid of, and adults will be intrigued by. The villain’s reason for his killings in the film forms the essence of the story. After all, serial murderers with killer convictions make for a great story.
He is obsessed with death and reminds me of psychopathic serial killers like Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, and Charles Manson. The cat-and-mouse game between him and Anjali immediately starts at the beginning of the film. It’s like they know each other very well. They have an indescribable connection and understand each other so much that they can second-guess each other’s moves.
The storyline of Anjali and Rudra keeps you on the edge of your seat. This film is not a thriller devoid of traditional romance, song, & dance routines in Indian movies. Most of it is included in a second storyline which makes it look like two separate movies.
Anurag and Nayanthara’s performances were great, film’s efficient background score and intelligent camera work. Atharvaa’s role is also neatly etched, and he impresses with his fights and emotional scenes but most of the romance and interactions with his friends can be removed in my opinion. The film should be centered around Anjali and Rudra. I liked the unpredictability and the unexpected turns. Vijay Sethupathi, who plays Anjali’s late husband in a cameo, ensures that he makes an impact even in a small role giving importance to family and the father effect.
NEGLECTING THE VALUE OF HUMAN LIFE
The unexpected turn of events at the end is shocking. It is a very difficult scene to watch and surely changes my view of Anjali after the truth is revealed. What do you do when the justice system is broken, and the wealthy always get their way out of punishments while the poor are heavily convicted? How do you repair the system?
Those last 30 minutes of the movie should have been the whole second half of the movie. Respect for human life should be the highest standard to follow. It is amazing to me how some people value animals and plants above the lives of their fellow human brothers and sisters. Respect life and nature equally. How hard can that be? I feel the film also critiques those that watch a person clearly in need of help and stay there watching and doing nothing which is something that happens a lot in the era of social media. There should be more scrutiny and punishment for those kinds of people.
GIVING IT A CHANCE
This section will be short. It was easy to give it a chance because of Nayanthara. Films of hers I watched so far include Raja Rani (2013), Naanum Rowdy Thaan (2015), and Dora (2017). Still have a few more to watch. This looks like a different role and another promising female protagonist role. I was curious about Kashyap as well. I knew of Kashyap’s work as a filmmaker from Bollywood and the indie Hindi side of the Indian film industry and I was curious to see him in an acting role in Kollywood (Tamil Cinema).
Surprisingly the film has fairly balanced reviews. I can understand why some people don’t like it and understand the people who do. As for me, I like to watch films where the culprits get what they deserve which is why I thoroughly enjoyed the end of Temper (2015).
Imaikkaa Nodigal is an interesting action/crime thriller however, the time dedicated to the love story between Atharvaa and Raashi should have been reduced. I liked that the heroine is portrayed as a relatable woman and the villain is not your average bad guy.
The cat-and-mouse game was cleverly portrayed but it still feels that it could have been better. I also liked how they briefly portrayed the importance of family and the father figure in the story. Even though it was short the father effect was felt. Not the forget the fighting scenes which were intense. The music was great as well, especially at the end.
The film has unpredictable twists, and the thrill factor makes it engaging till the end. There are turns you completely do not see coming, and hidden motives you did not expect which is great to experience these days. It shows how one’s life can suddenly change in just a few seconds. A must-watch if you like action/crime thrillers.
My Rating: 6.5/10
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