Director: Jiyen Krishnakumar
Cast: RJ Balaji, Isha Talwar, Aishwarya Rajesh, Radhika Sarathkumar
A woman, Sophie (Smruthi Venkat), jumps off a college window to her death. Soon after, a man, Sathya (RJ Balaji), sets himself up to jump off his high-rise balcony. Exploring what led to their state begins Jiyen Krishnakumar’s Run Baby Run starring RJ Balaji and an absolutely wasted Aishwarya Rajesh.
The film begins well. The first half is full of awkward situations and insanely stupid decisions. The conflict starts with Sathya finding Thara (Aishwarya Rajesh), a stranger in agony, hiding in his car while he’s on a drive with his girlfriend Priyanka (Isha Talwar). He doesn’t stop the car and ask her to leave immediately for fear of scandalising his girlfriend. Instead, he continues driving, hoping to deal with her in his girlfriend’s absence.
It’s an idiotic thing to do — as the audience, we know it will only create longer evidence trails and more things to hide. But we also empathise with this “ordinary bank employee,” (albeit driving a Volkswagen car, using an iMac, living alone in a sprawling high-rise with a guest room to boot) who probably doesn’t think much of himself, engaged to a gorgeous woman not wanting to blow his chance at a happy life.
The stupidity isn’t one-off, though. He takes Thara home. Despite knowing she is in grave danger for reasons unknown, he leaves her in the guest room with the door closed and goes to sleep while she’s still there. Sleeping so deeply that he doesn’t hear the calling bell, commotion or murder being committed in his living room.
In a way, Sathya is the perfect underdog, he evidently doesn’t have the smarts to get away with murder. So, the first half is captivating. This silly man’s journey towards disposing of the corpse is less about him getting away and more about getting himself deeper into the mess. To Jiyen Krishnakumar’s credit, he creates a rather subdued yet edge-of-the-seat thriller. There is no media drama, no mad-cop chasing him down, and no suspicious characters lingering around — an ordinary yet thrilling endeavour. The crossroads come at the interval block, giving us the hope that the revelation would be worth it.
When we return, Run Baby Run takes an uncharacteristic turn, unravelling like a regular unconsidered affair. In the second half, Sathya is an “ordinary bank employee” only in words, not in action. It’s like Sathya had a rebirth when we were away for the interval and transformed himself into a hero. He begins investigating what we’re told is a highly powerful villain all by himself, asking uncomfortable questions with little prior knowledge to go by. He deftly fist-fights college students and escapes unhurt. He keeps returning to situations of danger, with no one to cover for him, not so much as a getaway driver.
So, by now, we no longer relate to this Sathya, putting us far from caring for his mission — that RJ Balaji can’t emote convincingly exacerbates the audience-empathy problem. We never knew what Thara was into, and she’s dead, so we don’t care for her much either. Sophie was dead before the film started, so that’s a no-go. In the end, the only thing that keeps us interested in Run Baby Run is the whodunnit. When we meet the murderer, it feels damp. And when Sathya starts lecturing, it gets almost laughable.
That is not to say Run Baby Run is a bad film. Far from it. It’s a passable film with a handful of thrills to offer. It cleverly casts interesting actors like George Maryan, Bagavathi Perumal, Hareesh Peradi and Vivek Prasanna, leaving us to wonder what each of them might have up their sleeve. It keeps us guessing. Unfortunately, it also leaves us unfulfilled.