O2: A Strong Cautionary Tale For Humankind

Nayanthara is one of those few actresses who has struck a perfect balance between doing glamorous roles and also strong female parts. She has always experimented with different kinds of genres. The results haven’t always been on point but that hasn’t stopped the actress from taking risks. O2 directed by GS Viknesh is one such film. The director juxtaposes the concept of two maternal figures, one being Mother Nature and other is Nayanthara playing a widowed mother Parvathy.

The film begins off with a bird’s sorrow as her chicks are being killed due to deforestation by human beings. From there we go to the home of a seven year old boy called Veera. Veera suffers from a life threatening disease called cystic fibrosis. He is heavily dependent on the oxygen cylinder for breathing. From the very beginning Veera is used to represent the repercussions of tearing down the natural resources. A hope comes for Veera in the form of a corrective surgery. Parvarthy makes a quick decision to go ahead with it. The mother and son are joined by more characters as they travel by bus to Kochi for the surgery. These characters include a corrupt cop, an ex-MLA, inter-caste lovers etc. In a horrible twist of fate they get trapped within the bus, the nature unleashes its anger in the form of a horrific landslide. The rest of the film plays out as a claustrophobic thriller. Nothing more about the plot can be revealed.

It is not easy to make a thriller/drama set mostly in a single location. It needs enormous talent from both the director and also the actors to hold the audience’s attention. But director GS Viknesh does a good job in keeping the audiences engrossed. He makes you feel the wrath of nature.

GS Viknesh is also immensely aided by the acting talent of Nayanathara. The actress is in splendid form. She shoulders the weight of the film effortlessly. There are many shades to her character. She is someone who can be unapologetically selfish, self-serving and also violent too. Nayanathara sinks her teeth into the role and makes the audiences root for her. Just like mother earth Paravathy will also go to any lengths to save her son from danger. The parallel between these two maternal figures has been brought out brilliantly by the director.

Rithivik as Veera holds his own. He is particularly impressive in the high-octane emotional moments. Among the rest Bharath Neelakandan is terrific as a vicious cop.

The cinematography by Tamizh Azhagan is perfectly in sync with the narrative.  He does a commendable job in capturing the claustrophobia. The audiences feel that they themselves are in that situation.

The scenes where we see the fight for oxygen also strikes a chord. The reason being many lives were lost in the second wave of Covid due to the limited supply of oxygen.

The only bits that rankle in the film are those involving the inter-caste couple. They don’t add much to the film.

In a nutshell O2 is a largely gripping thriller that leaves you thinking.

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