‘Andhaghaaram’ movie review: Slow-burn suspense thriller is a test of patience

‘Andhaghaaram’: Not short on talent...  

Andhaghaaram nearly manages to do the job of a suspense-thriller... until it doesn't. For the longest time, you will be convinced to remain seated — your curiosity intact — and attempt to figure out what is going on. It will push you to scrape the barrel to collect the very last patch of patience you could find, but then it also leaves you with an underwhelming feeling at the end... like watching a house of cards you painstakingly built crumble not due to a gust but because you sneezed!

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The director, V Vignarajan, adopts a non-linear storytelling format. We see Selvam (Vinoth Kishan), a visually-challenged person working at a Government library. Circumstances push him to take up a job that involves trapping a vengeful spirit inside a haunted building, though Selvam himself was never a student of the occult.

We see Dr Indran (Kumar Natarajan), a psychiatrist, recovering from a coma and eager to get back to practise. Then, there is Vinod (Arjun Das), a cricket coach whose life has been on a downward spiral ever since a mate of his lost control of his mental faculties.

  • Director: V Vignarajan
  • Cast: Vinoth Kishan, Arjun Das, Kumar Natarajan, Pooja Ramachandran
  • Storyline: Supernatural events occurring in different time frames in the lives of three people converge to reveal a connection between the trio

There is a supernatural explanation to what binds these three men together. But the way Vignarajan goes about it is bound to test the audience; it doesn't matter if it is hyperlink cinema or just your conventional subject, slick storytelling is the need of the hour. It is ironic, however, considering the film teases the idiom — the devil is in the detail — at the start, and then, (perhaps true to character?) goes onto miss the larger picture to perfect minute details.

That said, those details are creditworthy. Like the cinematography by AM Edwin Sakay — such beautiful frames are seldom seen in psychological/horror-thrillers since most Tamil filmmakers seem content with tightly cut scenes and jump scares (of which there is just one in Andhaghaaram). A lot of attention to detail has also been afforded to the locations; Vinod's house is an example and it is amplified best in the scene where we see him stick paper notes all over the walls.

Still, the film hits you like a punch in the gut after a long day of fasting because the director opts not to loosen the narrative threads until the final moment. This leads to a massive information dump that deflates you because, well, there is quite a lot of information to process. More importantly, the answer to the most crucial question of 'why' seems bland (and offensive, as a dialogue portrays people dealing with mental health issues in poor light) and not what we spent two hours and 51 minutes patiently watching to understand.

What is, however, clear is that Andhaghaaram is not short on talent. Arjun Das and Vinoth Kishan both offer commendable performances (especially Das, suffocating us with his performance depicting the mental hardships Vinod is subjected to by an unseen individual). The film's director, too, seems to have no shortage of potential. All it will take is knowing when to stop writing and why it is crucial to write tight.

Andhaghaaram is currently streaming on Netflix

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2021 11:16:06 AM |

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