A mobile rings. The man picks up the phone. He is shocked by what he hears. The woman sleeping beside him wakes up and asks him whatever the matter was. With a grave expression on his face, the man says, "Your husband has been arrested."
With this explosive but mysterious beginning starts the exhilarating ride that is 'Choorikatte'. The crime thriller helmed by debutant director Raghu Shivamogga and starring Praveen Tej and Prerana in lead roles and Sandalwood veterans Achyuth Kumar and Balaji Manohar, the latter playing the antagonist, is an edge-of-the-seat thriller about the timber and sandalwood (not the film industry) mafia.
Choorikatte is a place in Karnataka's scenic Malnad region. The director draws on his own observations of the timber mafia predominant in the resource-rich region and bases his movie in the location.
Praveen plays Adi, a dashing college student who excels in sports and aspires to be a police constable. Prerana plays the role of Kala, a simple girl who falls for the charms of Adi. Achyuth Kumar plays the role of inspector Ravikanth, a cop who has been assigned to Choorikatte from Bengaluru and has vowed to take down the corrupt, the sandalwood mafia in particular. And finally, Balaji Manohar plays the role of Seena, initially a henchman of a sandalwood smuggler, convincingly played by Sharath Lohitashwa, who he later kills to take over the 'business'.
Adi, along with his friends, foils the smugglers' bid to transport sandalwood and timber to a contact. But when inspector Ravikanth arrests Seena, Kala, who happens to be Seena's niece, asks Adi to steal Ravikanth's gun which in turn will make Ravikanth lose his job. Adi does this and keeps the gun in Kala's bag. Seena, however, steals the gun and goes on a killing spree. From here starts a cat and mouse chase.
While the first half of the film does a great job of building the characters and set the premise for a film, it is marred by a needless song and action sequence. The part where Adi beats up goons to save a couple from being harassed was completely unnecessary and did nothing to add to the film.
It is the second part of the film that'll keep you absolutely hooked. In fact, the entire film takes a dark turn (if it wasn't dark enough already) with bodies piling up.
Although the songs are great, they aren't memorable. the final fight sequence gets a tad lengthy and the fact that all the fight sequences in the film involving the lead actor, although very well choreographed, is long and very wannabe'ish.
However, it is a very well-woven thriller that every movie lover will relish. The dialogues are subtle and although it has the typical tropes of an action-packed thriller, the scenes look very original. Kudos also to the cinematographer Advaitha Gurumurthy and editor Prakash Karinja for their brilliant work.
This is a must-watch for the fans and non-fans of the genre alike.