‘Bramayugam’ movie review: Mammootty’s performance elevates this middling film on the evils of unrestricted power

Director Rahul Sadasivan’s thriller elevates itself when it slowly transforms into a meditation on the nature of unquestioned power, and the way it brings out the worst in people, sometimes even the well-intentioned ones

February 15, 2024 04:48 pm | Updated 05:06 pm IST

Mammootty in ‘Bramayugam’

Mammootty in ‘Bramayugam’

Half an hour into Bramayugam, the idea of a black hole crops up in one’s mind. The eerie, old ‘mana’ that Kodumon Potty presides over, seems to be welcoming of everyone who passes through that region, but no one who has ever gone in has emerged out... much like in a black hole. Even Potty says he has not seen the outside world in quite a long time; it is doubtful whether he ever has, considering the story that reveals his true identity.

Time almost comes to a standstill here, much like near a black hole, with the occupants losing all sense of the days or years that they have spent inside. Even in the game of dice that the Potty (Mammootty) challenges the latest entrant (Arjun Ashokan) to, it is time that he is forced to gamble with. Losing the game would mean the person would spend his entire lifetime in the ‘mana’. It is into this timeless world that Rahul Sadasivan transports us to, almost making us believe that we are also at the mercy of the vile Potty, who does not tolerate those who look him in the eye.

The inventive treatment of horror in Rahul Sadasivan’s previous film Bhoothakalam appears to have fuelled certain expectations from Bramayugam. But this film is designed as a fantasy, mystery tale with a few mildly scary moments thrown in. The appearance of a ‘chaathan’ and an ‘yakshi’ on the screen really does not do much, for what is unseen is more scary, as we learned in Bhoothakalam. Amidst all that, the most chilling element in the whole film happens to be the evil laughter and the deep-throated voice of Potty, portrayed quite convincingly by Mammootty. He treats the role quite unlike any that he has played till date, although one gets a faint sense of the ghost of Bhaskara Pattelar from Vidheyan (1994) at some points.

Director: Rahul Sadasivan
Starring: Mammootty, Arjun Ashokan, Sidharth Bharathan, Amalda Liz, Manikandan Achary
Storyline: A young folk singer fleeing repression ends up at a run-down mansion lorded over by a mysterious aristocratic man. But, coming out of if won’t be as easy as going in
Runtime: 139 minutes

The aesthetic choice to have the entire film in black-and-white helps Bramayugam in no small measure. The drowning out of distracting colours and erasure of all the needless elements not only helps in transporting us to the rather primitive 17th century in which the film is set in, but adds to the eerie mood that pervades the run-down household. This sense of minimalism is reflected in the writing too, with much of the narrative revolving around the three principal characters and the two additional characters getting only a couple of scenes.

There are quite a few points where the writing suffers, but Shehnad Jalal’s frames, Christo Xavier’s music and the art department helps the film paper over many of its weaknesses to an extent. As for the basic story, there is nothing really new here from the folk tales that we are all already familiar with. It is the atmosphere that the makers create, and the treatment of the tale which saves the day, but they still fail to deliver anything that stuns the audience, except for a disorienting, claustrophobia-inducing sequence in the end.

Bramayugam elevates itself when it slowly transforms into a meditation on the nature of unquestioned power, and the way it brings out the worst in people, sometimes even the well-intentioned ones. It is at that point that this tale from another era speaks to the present.

Bramayugam is currently running in theatres

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