Cast: Siddharth, Andrea Jeremiah, Atul Kulkarni, Suresh and Anisha Angelina Victor
Music Composed by Girishh
Written by Milind Rau and Siddharth Narayan
Directed by Milind Rau
Cinematography by Shreyaas Krishna
Edited by Lawrence Kishore
Censor Certificate: A & Runtime: 136 Minutes.
A hero who doesn’t really care for money or box office status is a rare find in any film Industry. Even in Hollywood, you need to be a popular star for you to buy that Beach Mansion at Malibu. Can you not desire success? Is not wrong if you do so? No, but when success comes on your terms then it feels like you have won a jackpot. Not compromising in your wishes or not at all compromising in the story you’re trying to tell on screen lies the success.
You can shout at the loudest possible pitch for the mass audience to start clap for you or you may softly, swiftly take out a gun and shoot somebody and walk for what feels like an eternity. They could be associated with commercial movie tropes, but they are not art. They are just commercial tools that someone thought are successful but they don’t remain successful until someone is convinced until someone earns it. So, what should an actor do? Should he be looking to go non-compromising route or should he think about how to achieve shouting and walking status? This confusion leads many to start out in a non-compromising way, but they end up believing in shouting or walking in order to feel the eternal mass pulse.
Telugu Cinema has been missing a distinctive actor-star whose Friday doesn’t start with a bank account number and end with the statement of profits and losses. While some actors did start out like that they seemingly have gone down the commercial route with a promise to themselves that they will fight back. But can they? Can they pull off Siddharth? Go suddenly extinct and return with a solid thriller?
Is it a solid thriller? Not original but solid yes. In a ghost movie, you are as good as your backstory as that adds to your fear more. In dark, we fear more because of the unknown feeds of our imaginative strength. Unless and until, we imagine that what we may touch can be a dangerous snake we won’t scare the hell out of even touching a lizard, in darkness. When you know a dangerous person is around you and never know his or her next move, you will definitely urge yourself to stay calm and proactive all the time. That suspense adds to the drama and in horror films, beautifully setups the ugly scars.
Actors try to use makeups, props, and ugly structures to aide them in scaring you. Why should they? Because the art is divided into genres and life is filled with mysteries. The mysteries connected to many stories with no end scare us more, the past actus reus scare us more. We need a wake-up call to realize the mistakes that we allow happen or commit. There is a need for Horror to be socially aware. Siddharth and Milind Rau get that right. Even a Grudge (2004) / Conjuring (2013) / Ezra (2017) is scarier because it touches and plays with the normal common human emotions and not just try to jump scare with sound effects.
As far as the hero character and the arcs of other characters are concerned the film just tries to set up a twist and effortlessly executes it. But in the name of twist, it misses out on setting up a nice smooth screenplay that leads to the twist rather ends up hurrying to the climax. We miss out on major character development as the director tries to hint at it but misses out on using it well. Why the crawling monster above the wall when two characters have sex? Why a dream of ghost world? These are the gaps that director tried to fill for logic but if one makes sense the other one doesn’t really make any sense. Building on that suspense or suspicion is given away to exorcism for shock factor. Sometimes it just confuses a viewer as the director doesn’t really go all out in delivering a filmy twist or a logically brighter one. He misses a step there but gets it all covered by technical brilliance.
A crew that is technically strong can help you pull out the carpet under the viewer’s feet without them noticing. For Horror movies, sound needs to travel. A constant state of unrest should follow the characters making even the audience member restless. In that aspect, cameraman Shreyaas Krishna did a brilliant job. He chooses a green tint to highlight the darkness rather than a completely blank screen. That is a masterstroke. While you fear darkness, it also irritates you to just search endlessly or roam aimlessly. Green also goes with the character of the main ghost as it is against the white of Lord and black of pure demon too. The ghost here is a common man who believes in rituals and that aspect of your personality is not purely dark.
Sound travels as we discussed earlier and for a film, you need to design it well. Music composer and sound designer planned the silences well so that they can fill the noise in right tone where it is required. Also, the camera and sound act in tandem to make us a character and that is the best part of the film. Kudos to Milind Rau and Siddharth for bringing out such talented ensemble in the technical team.
When you boil it down to what you have seen and what you were promised, Siddharth and team give you much more than you anticipate but they get crushed under their own ambition as they try to deliver the twist more surprisingly than convincingly. In any case, they win the first hurdle of making an interesting enough yet familiar looking ghost thriller that needs your attendance at a screening near you.