At one point in Andhaghaaram, when the character Vinod played by Arjun Das, explains the crazy things happening around him to his girlfriend, she jokingly says visualizing all those things using graphics would cost a fortune. That statement somehow encapsulates why a lot of us would be impressed by V Vignarajan’s supernatural thriller. The story here is pure fantasy, yet the treatment gives you a feeling that you are watching a psychological thriller. Despite the climax being slightly on the underwhelming side, the script’s ability to keep you hooked onto the content that is nearly three hours long felt like a commendable achievement.
The story is narrated through the perspectives of three characters. Selvam is a blind librarian who is in search of some money for his kidney transplant. When every option gets shut in front of him, he decides to take up an exorcism task. The second one is a psychiatrist named Dr. Indran. Indran lost his family and his voice when one of his psychic patients decided to go against him. He was in a disturbing space post that incident. The third character is Vinod, a cricketer who has been getting weird, threatening phone calls after the authorities replaced his land phone. The link that connects these three characters and their stories are what we get to witness in Andhaghaaram.
A clear link is there between these three characters, and Vignarajan plays with the timeline of these events to give us some brain exercise. As I said initially, Andhaghaaram is a lengthy movie, yet it was utterly absorbing. The main reason for that was the way the script keeps you in that guessing phase. More than calling the screenplay’s placement of twists as surprising, I would prefer to call them as convincing. The psychological drama style rendering of sequences gives an authentic feel to this movie. Somewhere we are looking for the human element in each character who are linked through a supernatural force.
Viganarajan and his DOP, Edwin Sakay, are very aware of the visual language of the film. We get to see three color palettes that represent the three narratives in the movie. Selvam’s story is narrated in a rather conventional way. When it comes to Indran, the intensity increases, and we get to see tighter visuals. And in the narrative of Vinod, the colors and camera angles are incredibly spooky. Conventionally they use low angles to show the power of characters we see on screen, but here it was the opposite, and yet it somehow managed to communicate the horror in the treatment. Even in the pacing of the edits, we can see a gradual increase in each narrative. The convoluted-yet-compelling narrative sort of goes for a softer conclusion when we reach the climax of the movie. I am not saying it wasn’t good, but I was expecting something even more gripping and moving from a viewer’s perspective.
Vinoth Kishan, as Selvam, adds that layer of raw innocence in his performance. This character gets all the sympathy from the viewer, and Vinoth doesn’t make him look like a naïve character. Kumar Natarajan, as Dr. Indran, had that charisma of a manipulator in his depiction of the character. If you look at it, the expressions we see on his face are minimal, but the impact he creates with that minimalism was impressive. Arjun Das as Vinod is the more agile and fragile character here. Considering the power in his voice, I wasn’t expecting him to be cast as the most vulnerable character in the lot. Das never overdid his character, and thus the trauma of Vinod never feels eccentric. Pooja Ramachandran convincingly did her part as the teacher who sort of connects the three characters.
Andhaghaaram, on the whole, looked original in many ways. The movie’s premise is pretty minimal, yet the engagement level never dropped for the whole runtime. Vignarajan promises to be a man who has a tight hold over his craft, and I hope he will come up with more original ideas that squeeze out the best performances from actors.
Andhaghaaram, on the whole, looked original in many ways. The movie's premise is pretty minimal, yet the engagement level never dropped for the whole runtime.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended