What I found fascinating about Vipin Das’ second film Antakashari is how it has set up its canvas. Even in the most memorable serial killer stories we have seen in Malayalam, there is an alienating factor in the premise. Most filmmakers overcome this by creating twists that make us forget about the unrelatable elements. Antakshari is not really trying to surprise you with any major twist. It focuses more on the experiences of its main characters rather than showcasing jarring twists.
Das is the Officer in charge of the Kedaram police station, and his interrogation tactics are a bit weird. He plays Antakshari with the people who come to the station with complaints. One day, his daughter was attacked by a masked man, and she luckily got saved as her mother reached the spot quickly. As Das was trying to figure out who that psycho was, he got a call from the man himself, and the guy decided to play Antakshari with Das. The cat and mouse game between Das and the masked man is the soul of Antakshari.
The movie opens with a random event, and then it goes to a story that happened almost 30 years back before reaching Das, our leading man. By this time, Vipin Das manages to communicate the fact that he is not emphasizing the suspense factor. The focus of this thriller is to tell us how Das and his family get connected to this event. And Vipin Das manages to divert us to creating multiple theories about the possibilities. The cut to Das from the flashback story of the young boy is one such intelligent distraction technique. It is that peculiar scenario where the hero is looking for a person while the audience is looking for a link.
Das should not be a typical macho hero as the character’s vulnerability plays a crucial role. Thus the casting of Saiju Kurup feels authentic, and he was able to pull off the character with absolute conviction. Saiju’s stock expressions help the film establish Das as a relatable police officer. Towards the climax fight, his performance helps the movie a lot in holding the viewer’s attention. Sudhi Koppa did an impressive job as Srinivas. Kottayam Ramesh as the crooked Hariharan was brilliant. Binu Pappu was really convincing as the senior police officer Jayachandran. Priyanka, Vijay Babu, Ishita Singh, Boban Samuel, Shabareesh Varma, etc., are among the other prominent names in the cast.
In my opinion, the path this film takes to convince Das and Srinivas about the possibility of a pattern makes Antakshari unique. The design of the killings and the reason for that is such that you might even think such a thing could actually happen. Some of the characters created for the sake of diverting the viewers’ attention are pretty evident, and that was the only demerit I could point out in the writing part. The character of Nayana is open for interpretations, and I felt the character was placed to show how a specific loop is repeated through generations. The cinematography is exquisite, and the cuts knew how to maintain that nervous energy. The background score helps the movie in creating a certain level of curiosity.
Antakshari may have structural familiarity with other films. But Vipin Das tries to place it in a different setting that seems more natural. With multiple characters getting the limelight and the screenplay succeeding in giving them a required level of depth, Antakshari manages to be thrilling and engaging till the last moment. I always wanted to see a serial killer thriller with a minimalistic approach, and Antakshari worked for me in that aspect.
I always wanted to see a serial killer thriller with a minimalistic approach, and Antakshari worked for me in that aspect.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended