Athiran Review & Rating
Athiran Review: A Could Have Been Better Horror-Thriller
It is the season of thrillers in the two of the Southernmost film industries in India. Both Mollywood and its Eastern neighbor Kollywood have been delivering one thriller after another and more often than not of high quality. Debutant director Vivek (of course, he had a shelved film in the form of Aanenkilum Allenkilum) has come up with a sort of Gothic horror-thriller starring two of the most talented actors in South Indian Cinema, Fahaadh Faasil and Sai Pallavi.
The movie has another highlight: written by P. F. Mathews, one of the best screenwriters in Malayalam Cinema, known for dark tales about misfortunate people. The National Award winning writer's presence added more heft to this film that is imaginable. Let's see if we get another top-notch thriller to add to films like Joseph.
The movie starts with a creepy scene set in the year 1967 when a woman is shown encountering four murder victims, i. e. the bodies in a dilapidated house. She panics to no end and packs her belongings and runs out of the house for her life. But not before we watch an unrevealed person playing with a strip of wool.
The scene is sure to make you prepare for what more to come and the music makes sure to test your guts - if you could stomach the entire film. If not, better leave it there and turn your back like the woman in the opening scene did. Better for your health. Then the scene shifts to 5 years later.
Dr. M. Kannan Nair, Kannan for short, comes to an isolated house for mentally suffering people. But this is not exactly a correct description. While five of the inmates played by Surabhi, Sudev Nair, Vijay Menon, Leona Lishoy, and an elderly artist who claims to paint future. Every one of them has their own worlds (read: psychological disorders). And the other is Sai Pallavi in a typically ironic role of Nitya Lekshmi, an autistic patient who for some reason is kept locked for the most part.
Kannan as the hero of the film comes to loggerheads with the warden and the resident doctor. And quite obviously for the genre, they are also unhappy with Kannan's presence. What does Kannan do with these people and how and if he keeps the evil in check or is he himself the manifestation of evil form the rest of the story.
Writing and direction
P. F. Matthews has come up with a classic horror thriller setup and created intriguing characters like an old agony aunt who tries to help her fellow inmates than those who write to the newspaper (Surabhi) or a professor who tries to understand the meaning of the word schadenfreude (Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others) played by Vijay Menon. Even Fahaadh's role is shrouded in mystery (more on that later). But it is Sai Pallavi's Nitya who takes the cake with long hair covering her face.
But unfortunately, there is a lack of depth in the proceedings. We get a feeling that the writer and director tried to say something deep but themselves failed to understand what they wanted to tell. Vivek's direction is adequate. But at portions, we get a feeling that he overdid the thrills and we want to close our eyes. But its a job well done. Also, there are scenes which remind us of a certain famous Hollywood film.
Fahaadh Faasil is too good in his role and he went into the skin of it. His entry itself is a classic trope of the genre. First, we get to listen to his voice before he makes his on-screen appearance in full. He is introduced in a gentlemanly manner. Sai Pallavi as an autistic person who is adept at Kalariyapattu is at her best. She could have gone overboard with her movements and expressions but a quality actor she is, she presented the right amount of histrionics. Rest of the actors including Atul Kulkarni as the in-house doctor did well.
While the songs by P. S. Jayahari are good, their placement is where the director faltered. Ghibran is at his absolute best in scoring the BGM. It elevated the mystery and horror element to new proportions. The editing is slick. The cinematography is top-notch. The production design is creepily good. Production values are first rate.
Athiran falls in the category of could-have-been-better films with flashes of brilliance and dull moments interspersed. Still, the genre lovers could give it a try this weekend (not a festival film though. Strictly no for families and children) without expectations. Else, you can wait till it gets streamed online.
- The premise
- The setting
- Score by Ghibran
- Lack of narrative depth
- Thrills went overboard
Pycker Rating: 2.5 out of 5
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Fahaadh Faasil is on a hot streak these days with back to back critically acclaimed and blockbuster commercial successes. He even acted in the highly talked about Tamil cult classic Super Deluxe where his performance received high praise. Now, he is coming up with the psychological horror-thriller in the combination of fan-favorite Sai Pallavi.
Quite typical of recent Fahaadh films, there's not much buzz in the lead up for the release. But with a talented cast like Fahaadh and Sai Pallavi, the movie garnered the attention of the movie buffs. Athiran opened early today to mixed to positive response from the critic and the audience. Comparisons with the Martin Scorsese directorial Shutter Island starring Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio haven't escaped the eagle-eyed fans.
Athiran is said to be a good attempt and is surely inspired by a couple of thrillers. But this time Sai Pallavi overshadowed Fahadh Faasil. The first half too good but the second half got a bit cliched with the storyline but it is technically rich. The first half of the film has enough creepy moments. The background score is brilliant. But in the end, the film appears to be a one-time watch. The climax twist will appeal to the general audience but not to the informed audience.
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