'Andhakaaram', directed by V Vignarajan, is dubbed from Tamil. Now streaming on Netflix, the film is the latest OTT release. Released amid low expectations, the film features unfamiliar actors. Let's find out what the thriller has to offer.
Essentially, there are three characters in the movie. A visually-challenged sarkari clerk with a penchant for occultism, a middle-aged psychiatrist who looks dutiful, a troubled cricketer who may be suffering from psychiatric problems.
Vinod (Arjun Das) is a cricketer who receives phone calls on his landline phone. On the other side of the line is an evil-sounding voice. There comes a point when Vinod grows paranoid at the mere thought of lifting the phone.
Suryam (Vinoth Kishan) is a blind clerk working in a library. He is tasked with taming an evil spirit. This can have some unforeseen consequences.
Dr Indran (Kumar Natarajan) comes across as a great professional but, beneath the veneer of a smiling man, there is be a shockingly efficient psychiatrist.
Throw in a girlfriend, a teacher (Pooja Ramachandran), and a couple of other characters, the many threads are covered.
Each of the characters clearly understood their brief. Kudos to the director for making them look every bit fearsome, pitiable, cunning or whatever they are supposed to seem. Kumar Natarajan takes the cake with his subtle performance. The other two male actors are adept.
Cinematography by AM Edwin Sakay is top-notch. For a moody thriller like this, which was shot in an urban Indian landscape and distinct indoors, the visuals are nimble. Pradeep Kumar's BGM is immersive.
The production design deserves applause for getting the objects and their placement right.
The screenplay is tantalizingly non-linear, which is intelligent and is not confusing for the sake of it. The non-linearity not only goes to build tension but is also intriguing.
The way the supernatural unfolds, it is all very exciting. It is not only smart but also feels edgy.
The film's visual strength hinges on its distinct atmospherics. Like the crowd-funded Telugu film 'Manu', which too was a supernatural thriller, this film too pushes the envelope.
Unlike most horror films, this one deploys scares in a unique way. There are no silly sounds, idiotic tropes. In fact, the film aims to scare the audience with its poignancy rather than the horror elements.
The retrospect in the climax shouldn't have been so clunky. The narration should have stopped to take a breath.
The run-time of 170 minutes is testing. A good part of the middle portions should have been omitted for good.
'Andhakaaram' is an experimental supernatural thriller that is bold, poignant, frightening and inspiring at once. Watch it with attention!