Sruthi Ganapathy Raman
The film is centred around modern-day Tamil-speaking characters, but they live in sprawling art-deco apartments with embellished interiors. A locked-room murder unfolds in one such apartment, and the detective in charge is Vinayak (Vijay Antony).
The director is more interested in the “why” and “how” of things, rather than the “who”. Kolai plays out like a soft and slow musical that’s more concerned with the build-up to a crescendo than the crescendo itself.
Vinayak is one of the most interesting parts about the film. He’s a detective torn by a tragedy at home that he unkindly holds himself responsible for. When he realises that he can right his wrong with yet another person’s life, he finds hope. One tragedy brings him pain, while the other, purpose.
Even if Vinayak’s job is to in fact assist Sandhya (Ritika Singh), Kolai takes the super obvious route by surrounding him with dolts. So, even if we’re told Sandhya is a brilliant cop, what we are shown, however, are glimpses of her cluelessness.
Kolai’s eye for visual finesse is visible all through its MO, but its motive, and by extension its writing, is watered down.