10 Riveting Kollywood Thrillers That Take Place In A Day

With a lot at stake and only a few hours to save the day, check out the Kollywood movies that race against time to sort issues within a day
10 Riveting Kollywood Thrillers That Take Place In A Day

Thriller films set over the course of one day or night are just the kind of pulsating, adrenaline-inducing experience that we, as fans of cinema, crave. Aishwarya Rajesh-starrer Driver Jamuna is one such film that chronicles the harrowing experience faced by cab-driver Jamuna, as she is forced to take a ride with three contract killers. As we gear up for its OTT release on Aha today, let's revisit thrillers from Tamil cinema set within 24 hours, which are guaranteed to get your pulse racing.

Kaithi (2019)

Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video and Sony Liv

For a film that moves at breakneck speed, Kaithi is a case study in careful, deliberate plot construction. The film patiently unfurls one detail after another in its setup, gradually raising the stakes before exploding into a full-blown action bonanza. Set throughout one night, the thriller follows the story of Dilli (Karthi), an ex-convict who plans to meet his daughter for the first time after leaving prison. However, fate has other plans as he is forced to aid injured Inspector Bejoy (Narain) to save the lives of several police officers, who are left poisoned and unconscious by a major drug gang whose contraband has been seized by the police department.

Much like the directors’ latest venture Vikram, the action works not only because of its innovative staging and stunt work, but also because of how methodically and logically the sequences are placed in the narrative. Kaithi cemented Lokesh Kanagraj’s status as one of the brightest talents in Tamil cinema and proved that a pure genre piece could have massive appeal without falling in into any of the commercial trappings that Tamil cinema has been predisposed to.

10 Riveting Kollywood Thrillers That Take Place In A Day
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Unnaipol Oruvan (2009)

A largely faithful remake of A Wednesday (2008), Unnaipol Oruvan deserves to be watched for the powerhouse performances of Kamal Haasan and Mohanlal. There is a vice-like grip felt while watching the two thespians engage in a game of one-upmanship, and its only helped by the fact that the source material that they are working with is rock-solid.

Set in Chennai, the film follows a day in the life of a police commissioner (Mohanlal). He gets a phone call from a common man (Kamal Haasan) who says he has rigged the city with explosives, and demands the release of four terrorists in custody. While the commissioner initially takes the phone call lightly, he soon realises the seriousness and forms a team to tackle the demands and hunt down the “common man”. Unnaipol Ourvan is not limited by the constraints of a "one-day thriller”. Instead, it uses the framework brilliantly to explore matters of genuine social concern.

Thoongavanam (2015)

Streaming on: Disney Plus Hotstar

Yet another Kamal Haasan flick, Thoongavanam is an adaptation of the French film Sleepless Night (2011). The film follows the story of NCB officer CK Diwakar (Kamal Haasan) whose son Vasu is held to ransom by drug lord Vittal Rao (Prakash Raj). The demands of the kidnapper are clear: Vasu will be released only if Diwakar returns the bag of cocaine he had seized while busting a narcotics scam.

Set mostly over the course of one night in a nightclub, Thoongavanam benefits from having inventive action and stunt choreography, the major highlight being the action sequence set in the club’s kitchen. However, one can’t help but feel that the film does not reach its full potential, as the stakes don’t translate nearly as effectively on screen as one would've hoped. However, trust Kamal Haasan to innovate with even the most surface level material. The audience is constantly left in doubt about Diwakar’s morality.

Aaranya Kaandam (2011)

Streaming on: Disney Plus Hotstar

Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s directorial debut has acquired a status of mythic proportions and a badge of honour among cinephiles as the ‘first ever neo- noir film’ in Tamil cinema. Set over the course of one day and following the lives of six different protagonists, Aaranya Kaandam uses 'a day in the life' narrative effectively to explore the broad scope of human nature.

The film follows the story of Singaperumal (Jackie Shroff), an aging don who is slowly fading away into insignificance. He tries to outwit his arch nemesis Gajendran with an ingenious plan while also scheming to do away with his underling Pasupathy (Sampath). On the other hand, his mistress Subbu (Yasmin Ponappa), tired of the abuse dealt by Singuperamal, decides to run away with his right-hand man Sappai (Ravi Krishna). The series of unpredictable, wild events that follow over the course of the 24 hours form the film’s narrative.

24 Mani Neram (1984)

Streaming on: Jio Cinema

Some films are a snapshot in time that deserve to be watched for being a reminder of an era long gone by. 24 Mani Neram is one such film. The plot is simple: Raj (Mohan) vows to avenge the murder of his wife by killing billionaire Ramarathinam (Sathyaraj), who raped her, within the time frame of 24 hours. Sathyaraj’s menacing turn as the despicable womaniser and Illayaraja’s brilliant music validate its watching, despite the film being very dated.

Onaayum Aattukkuttiyum (2013)

Streaming on: Disney Plus Hotstar

Onaayum Aattukkuttiyum is a standout in director Mysskin’s filmography, the best representation of the auteur’s idiosyncrasies command over the craft of filmmaking. The movie is an exploration of the inherent dichotomy of human nature and delves deeply into how our own perception of morality can be distorted by the society we inhabit.

The film set mostly over the course of one fateful night, follows Chandru (Sri) a medical student who saves a dying, injured man who is stranded on a deserted road. Chaos ensues when the man escapes and is revealed to be “Wolf” (Myskkin), a fugitive on the run from the police. The police arrest Chandru’s entire family and blackmail him to aid their efforts of capturing Wolf at all costs. What follows next forms the crux of the film’s narrative. Onaayum Aattukkuttiyum is a shining example of how Mysskin uses human drama and conflict within a story to posit an overarching philosophy while evoking an emotional resonance in the viewer. One can call the filmmaker self-indulgent, but can you shake yourself off the sensory experiences of watching his films?

Neram (2013)

Streaming on: Sun NXT

Alphonse Putheren’s directorial debut Neram uses the limited timeframe to ooze out tension while balancing it with quirky humour. The film never takes itself seriously, which is perhaps why one has so much fun while watching it.

The movie focuses on a day in the life of an unemployed computer science graduate Vetri (Nivin Pauly), who has to repay the money he has taken from a loan shark Vatti Raja (Bobby Simha), within a specific time. Failing to do that would mean dire consequences for Vetri. The same day, Vetri’s girlfriend Veni (Nazriya) decides to elope with him. However, things take an unexpected turn for the worst, turning their lives upside down. A film that evokes the feel of a ticking clock, Neram, as the title suggests, is perhaps the most prominent film in this list that is so completely obsessed with the concept of ‘time’ and the effects it has on individuals.

Vidiyum Munn (2013)

Inspired by London to Brighton (2006), Vidiyum Munn follows the story of a sex worker Pooja (Rekha) who protects a 12 year old Nandini (Malavika) from falling into the life of prostitution. However, both of them are on the run as they are chased by four different men who wish to hunt them down for different reasons.

Vidiyum Munn consistently ratchets up the tension with every passing minute. Part of what makes this film so uneasy to watch is the brilliant acting of both Rekha and Malavika who are both vulnerable yet resolute in their performances, making one completely believe the horrific predicament their characters face.

Vizhithiru (2017)

Vizhithiru deserves a place on this list purely for being an earnest attempt at being a hyperlink thriller that unravels in one night. Strangers from different walks of life with various motives cross paths in an unexpected situation in this film.

While the film certainly pales in comparison to the other films in this list, Vizhithiru deserves to be watched. What the film lacks in screenplay and staging of action sequences, it makes up for in the performances of the cast and its heartfelt attempt at giving out a message through the course of its narrative.

Chennayil Oru Naal (2013)

Streaming on: Disney Plus Hotstar

What does it take for the paths of completely unrelated strangers to converge, altering each of their lives completely? Chennayil Oru Naal is the kind of film that makes one marvel at the various coincidences and chance encounters that we experience on a day-to-day basis in our lives, and how each of these moments inadvertently leave a lasting impression on us, shaping who we are.

Remade from the Malayalam film Traffic (2011), Chennayil Oru Naal has four parallel stories: film star Gautham Krishna (Prakash Raj) who is gearing up for his latest movie release, a journalist who is excited to do his first video interview, a cardiologist Dr Robin Raj (Prassana) who is looking forward to an anniversary with his wife, and a cop (Cheran) who rejoins duty after suspension for accepting bribes. An accident that takes place on one fateful day changes the lives of all the characters. The film works, thanks to the brilliant characterisation and the cast who despite their limited screen time put forth extremely believable performances. The movie expertly uses the ‘race against time’ thriller subgenre to provoke the minds of the audience.

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