Cast: Sohum Shah, Ronjini Chakraborty, Deepak Damle, Anita Date, Jyoti Malshe, Dhundiraj Prabhakar Jogalekar, Harish Khanna, Mohd Samad, Cameron Anderson
Director: Rahi Anil Barve, Adesh Prasad
Rating: * * *
Anand (Ship of Thesis) Gandhi’s associate, Rahi Anil Barve and Adesh Prasad’s attempts to conjure up a fascinatingly pulsating, though unfathomable ‘horrorverse’ that mines Indian mythology for its striking composition and craft, makes for a fascinating study of avarice, corruption, and degradation leading to death.
While the origin thread harkens to a mythological story about a goddess who created the entire universe, the main plot revolves around the consequences after humans build a temple for her first-born. It’s a parable about Vinayak Rao (Sohum Shah) and his attempts to seek out the golden booty hidden in the womb of the temple – the access for which can be had through a treasure chest, proceeded by the calling forth and tricking of the guardian, man-feasting monster linked to the undead. While writers and co-directors Mitesh Shah, Adesh Prasad, Anand Gandhi, and Rahi Anil Barve invoke a highly visceral envelopment through an artistic palette of colors and brooding gothic-like imagery, it’s not something that creates affect deep enough for empathetic memorability.
The set-up has its high-points of intrigue and suspense, but the failure to flesh out the story elements and take it beyond an avaricious treasure hunt (repetitive), stymies the overall affect here. The period (the film begins around 30 years before independence) is succinctly depicted with costumes, locations, art direction, the production design of high order – but it has no great significance on the overall byplay.
This film doesn’t really fit into a fixed genre as its horror elements bow to the artistic rather than horrific. The chapter wise representation of the story takes it forward through time leaps, but nothing much changes in the overall context. Greed lays claim to a weird, cursed inheritance that is known to have destroyed lives over generations. The allegorical references to the human mind and its deteriorating condition fail to generate depth beyond the perfunctory.
The ensemble cast lends gravitas to the essay with striking performances while the camerawork by Pankaj Kumar, editing by Sanyukta Kaza, makeup, prosthetics, and VFX lends otherworldly grandeur to a very local idea. While the creative team behind this effort have fashioned a majestic visual orifice that has the potential to draw you in deep, the lack of a meaty story and undefined purpose leaves you untouched. This is a film that has the power to leave you stunned by the sheer artistry of its imagery, but the lack of bite in the telling disallows any tangible affect!