How can someone who displayed so much filmmaking flair in his debut come up with such a lacklustre sophomore effort? That's the question that crops up after watching Jackson Durai, which is directed by Dharanidharan, who gave us the stylish crime thriller Burma. The film is a horror comedy, a genre that is very much the trend today, and going by the director's previous film, you expect at least a competently made film that keeps us entertained. But the only thing that we have in store is disappointment.
The plot is set in Ayanpuram, a village that is bothered by ghosts that put in an appearance every night once the clock strikes nine. So, the police send Sathya (Sibi), an empty vessel of a cop, to investigate these claims. He, in true Tamil cinema tradition, falls in love with Viji (Bindu Madhavi), a girl in the village the moment he steps foot in the place. Even as he begins his so-called investigation, he realises there is another challenger to Viji's hand — her relative Veera (Karunakaran). So, the girl's father provides them with a challenge — whoever manages to stay alive in the haunted bungalow in the village for seven days will be the chosen one.
The problem is that the writing seems slapdash with scenes that are either cliched or too convenient. The best example of this is the flashback portion that shows us how the ghosts came to be, and what they are after. It involves the independence struggle and a personal conflict between the local British head (Zachary) and a revolutionary (Sathyaraj). There is tragedy but it doesn't feel tragic enough; there are patriotic lines but they aren't rousing enough; there is a villain but he isn't fearsome enough; there is also Sathyaraj, and he isn't entertaining enough. It's no wonder the film goes downhill after this segment. Even a Groundhog Day-ish situation that comes next is dealt with in an unimaginative manner. In fact, at least until then, we are kept amused thanks to the comedy elements. Karunakaran, especially, is very funny in these portions, and keeps the scenes engaging, with Yogi Babu chipping in now and then. But these handful of laughs cannot compensate for the overall tediousness.