A woman who has lost everything deciding to use everyone who wants to exploit her to build an empire of her own is an idea that looks fascinating but is not necessarily novel. In the movie, the heroine herself admits that her story is shown in many old Malayalam films. But Chathuram uses the framework of a thriller to be engaging. Even though the placement of the characters looks exciting, the movie is a bit shaky in the third act.
Selena is married to Eldho, who is much older than her. Eldho is a habitual abuser and the early months of the marriage were extremely toxic for Selena. One day during a walk around the estate, Eldho met with an accident and got paralyzed. A new boy named Balthazar comes to take care of Eldho. With Eldho’s health in a critical stage, things become a bit murky and how Selena decides to use the situation in her favor is what we see in Chathuram.
Almost every man that comes into the frame is looking at Selena with only lusty intentions. And most of them don’t like the idea of her being in power. After setting up all the characters and their egos, Siddharth Bharathan and writer Vinoy Thomas introduce the game of Chess into the plot. It is very obvious that Selena’s mastery of Chess is a metaphor for what she is capable of in manipulating others. In the initial steps of her big plan, the way she uses her sensuality to move the pieces definitely looks compelling. But once the movie addresses the moral dilemma of Balthazar, that gripping feel is lost.
Swasika, as Selena, is pretty effective. From being a victim of an abusive relationship to becoming a cunning mind that controls someone to fix her life, she maneuvers the character in a very believable way. Roshan Mathew, as Balthazar, also gets a character with many emotional transitions. Interestingly, where Balthazar is at the movie’s end is similar to where Selena is at the beginning. The flirtatious side, the dilemma, and the realization of being trapped were performed really well by Roshan. First Appan, now Chathuram; I hope Alencier doesn’t get typecast as the bedridden chauvinist with a foul mouth. By the way, his performance was extremely good, especially in that bedridden phase where he had lesser tools to support his emotions.
Chathuram actually had the potential to look at a manipulative character in an empathetic way. The movie transitions from the audience rooting for Selena to them feeling bad for Balthazar. In terms of the story arc, I would say that it is an enticing way of pitching a story. But to be fully compelling, the final act of Chathuram needed a tight screenplay. The decision to focus on Balthazar’s helplessness instead of Selena’s victory gives the movie a less impactful conclusion. Pradeesh M Varma’s visuals use mirrors extensively to depict the characters’ conflict, dual shade, etc.
Chathuram definitely falls under the category of all those single-location thrillers that got planned during the COVID times. But it is not a movie that uses those limitations as an excuse to create a bland film. A tidier final act with a thriller-oriented perspective could have made a big difference, as it would make the audience read the whole thing from Selena’s perspective.
Even though the placement of the characters looks exciting, the movie is a bit shaky in the third act.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended