‘Romancham’ movie review: Jithu Madhavan’s horror-comedy is a laugh riot

Along with some top-notch comic performances from the entire cast, everything works like a charm and evokes uproarious laughter in director Jithu Madhavan’s debut film

February 04, 2023 01:46 pm | Updated 02:07 pm IST

A still from ‘Romancham’

A still from ‘Romancham’

An Ouija board in a horror film is no mark of novelty. After all, there is no better excuse than the board to open a portal to the other world and summon wandering spirits. But this eternal source of the supernatural becomes quite something else in Romancham, Jithu Madhavan’s debut film. What happens around it often evokes uproarious laughter, rather than fear. One reason for this is how the director, who also scripted the film, has conceived the scenarios. The other being some top-notch comic performances from the entire cast, with impeccable timing.

It all happens inside a rented house in Bengaluru in 2007, with seven bachelors having the time of their lives despite struggling to stay afloat. The mix involves two men who have a job, a failed businessman, two who have been waiting eternally for a job offer after an interview, and two who have no jobs. It is easy for a viewer to fit into this small world of diverse characters, who all stand out in their own way, with their unique brand of craziness. For anyone who has been in that city around this period, the world that the film creates is quite relatable.

Director: Jithu Madhavan
Cast: Soubin Shahir, Arjun Ashokan, Siju Sunny, Abin Bino, Jagadeesh Kumar, Afzal PH, Sajin Gopu, Anantharaman Ajay, Chemban Vinod

As in any such bachelor household, there is the responsible man trying hard to bring a semblance of discipline amidst the wayward bunch, as well as the man who refuses to mend his ways and struggles for his right to consume paan masala. Curiosity gives way to horror when the seven of them summon a spirit using an ouija board. The arrival of a new person with peculiar behavioural issues further complicates matters.

With its organic flow and uncomplicated scenarios, it might look like an easy script to write, but to pull something off so seamlessly, the writer has to have a clear understanding of what would work on the screen and what to leave out. To Jithu’s credit, almost everything works like a charm here. The mise-en-scène of the bachelor room itself has enough elements to evoke laughter. The unsold western commodes of the failed businessman fill up a good part of the room, becoming makeshift chairs, a rice container, and even a gift for a friend’s wedding.

When the supernatural elements kick in, the script also leaves some space for us to doubt the happenings. Sushin Shyam has created songs and background score that gel with the quirky mood of the whole film. After a long time, Soubin Shahir gets a role that fits his kind of acting, while Arjun Ashokan expertly handles a character that is difficult to pull off. But it is the crop of new actors who carry the film all through, complementing each other well.

Romancham leaves us with a promise of a sequel, which is something to look forward to, considering the fact that much can be done with this set of characters. Horror-comedy is a genre that requires a lot of delicate balancing, and Jithu Madhavan gets it just right, making it one of the best of its kind in Malayalam cinema.

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