Debut director Subbu Vedula begins his film by thanking a few of his favourite filmmakers, including Coen Brothers. At a crucial point in the story, a character talks about The Gatsby Syndrome. Towards the end, when the director has managed to fit in the pieces of the puzzle to deliver a fairly gripping thriller, he proves that the reference to international filmmakers and literature is not just for the heck of it.
An indie-spirited venture, Raahu banks on its story and the leading lady Kriti Garg is a talent who holds promise.
‘Raahu’ alludes to the darkness that engulfs a character, in more ways than one. Bhanu, who was named so that she shines bright like the sun rays, loses her vision temporarily when overcome with stress, especially at the sight of blood. She suffers from Conversion Disorder, particularly ‘hysterical blindness’. The 123-minute thriller explores what happens when she has to fight for survival by overcoming her fears.
It takes a while for the film to find its rhythm. For instance, an action sequence involving the cops and Nagaraju (‘Kalakeya’ Prabhakar), looks amateurish in terms of its action choreography and other technical aspects. There’s bloodshed, an arrest and a cry for revenge but it doesn’t move you, not yet.
- Cast: Kriti Garg and AbeRaam Varma
- Direction: Subbu Vedula
- Music: Praveen Lakkaraju
Bhanu is the police commissioner’s daughter (Subbu Vedula doubles up as an actor) who grows up knowing that her life is under threat. Hysterical blindness not withstanding, losing her mother as a child still weighs on her psyche.
Soon, a prisoner is on the run and Bhanu is kidnapped. Her story is revealed by and by, going back and forth to reveal her romance with Sesh (AbeRaam Varma), and her present condition of being trapped in a car.
The romance, too, develops abruptly before it finds its momentum. There’s the hummable melody ‘Emo emo’ by Sid Sriram and other songs composed by Praveen Lakkaraju that iron out the rough edges.
While many films suffer from the ‘second half syndrome’, this is where Raahu truly gets its act together. Post interval, a nearly hour-long sequence shows Bhanu in a far-flung house, trying to prevent her nemesis from breaking in. Her automobile engineering skills are also put to test.
There are a few tropes such narratives cannot escape — like having an ominous looking character actually ending up being harmless. So when such a character is introduced and the true nature is revealed, it doesn’t come as a surprise. However, Raahu plays its cards well with the cat-and-mouse game between Bhanu and the antagonist. An unexpected sisterhood is also formed between Bhanu and Spoorthi, a pre-teen who’s part of the household.
The last act ties up the different things cursorily mentioned earlier in the film — references to snakes acquire a deeper meaning, and there’s a subplot involving a minister’s daughter.
Kriti is vulnerable and convincing as Bhanu. The banter between Giridhar and Chalaki Chanti who play small time thugs is crude and the jokes don’t always land, but they come across as creepy enough to convey a feeling of impending danger.
Raahu is an appreciable first attempt. I wish the film had been smarter in laying out its clues such that they hide in plain sight and then allow viewers to connect the dots, than explain them all towards the end.