‘Chathuram’ movie reivew: An unimaginative thriller with the vibe of an outdated racy novel

The film’s fatal flaw is in the lens through which it looks at the central character Selena (Swasika Vijay), the quintessential femme fatale

November 09, 2022 06:14 pm | Updated 06:14 pm IST

The poster of ‘Chathuram’

The poster of ‘Chathuram’

Almost everything that one expects to happen in Chathuram after watching its trailer actually does happen in the movie, except for a few minor twists here and there. That says a lot about the lack of imagination that lies at its heart. Anyone who has had even a passing familiarity with the racy novels that used to flood the markets decades back, written with an intention to provide cheap thrills and titillation in equal measure, could easily sense the similar vibe and see where the narrative is heading.

But the script written by director Siddharth Bharathan and Vinoy Thomas, attempts to make Chathuram more intelligent than it actually is. Eldho (Alencier Ley Lopez), a wealthy man, marries Selena (Swasika Vijay), a woman much younger to him, setting tongues wagging in the neighbourhood. As soon as they land up in Eldho’s home situated amid a vast estate, he unleashes brutal violence upon her. Probably due to the helpleness of her situation, Selena seems to tolerate this and act as if nothing serious happened. For instance, on the morning after a violent assault, she invites him for a game of chess.

Director: Siddharth Bharathan
Cast: Swasika Vijay, Roshan Mathew, Shanthi Balachandran, Alencier Ley Lopez

The equations change when Eldho has a major fall, and is bed-ridden. The arrival of Balthazar (Roshan Mathew) further complicates matters, but of course we clearly know where all this is heading. Yet, this is not the film’s fatal flaw. It is in the lens through which the film looks at its central character Selena, the quintessential femme fatale. Although the script aims for her to have a brain and portrays her as manipulative enough to bring everyone under her control, it is for most parts obsessed only with her body, except in a few scenes like the one where she puts a lawyer in his place. Perhaps due to this, they have even forgotten to talk much about her past, which could have given us a better idea about why she does what she does.

The camera almost behaves like most of the men in the film who approach her, who does so with lascivious eyes. The labelling of the film as an “erotic thriller” seems convenient for this purpose. Her inner world, and the conflicts within it, thus remains unknown to us. The only interesting aspect that the script explores a little are the conflicts that Balthazar faces, when Selena demands him to do something for their bright future. Balthazar is no victim here, as he is only second to Selena in coming up with crooked schemes to get what he wants, yet he also seems to be incapable of being evil beyond certain limits.

But these few promising deviations do not end up saving a film that does not deviate much from the old sources that it draws inspiration from, which is unfortunate considering some of the brilliant fiction that co-writer Vinoy Thomas is known for.

Chathuram is currently running in theatres

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