Anando Brahma Review
'Anando Brahma', the touted horror-comedy with a difference, hits the screens today. Here is our review.
Taapse Pannu, her grandpa, a child and their maid (played by Raghu Karamanchi) inhabit an old-style house called Lakshmi Nilayam that smells of a desolate look. They encounter a few ghosts in the house.
The first twist of the movie arrives quite early on when we are told that the aforementioned inhabitants are the real ghosts, who realize to their despair that they are actually dead. The house acquires the notoriety of being haunted, because of which its owner (Rajeev Kanakala) finds it difficult to sell it for a fair price.
A middle-class man (Srinivas Reddy), who is in bad need of money, senses an opportunity. He convinces the owner that he will stay in the house for a night and prove to the world that there it's not haunted by ghosts - all in return for a cut.
He is joined by Vennela Kishore, Shakalaka Shankar, and Tagubothu Ramesh, all of whom have their own disabilities or quirks, and all of whom badly need money to bail themselves out of their desperate situations.
But all is not well in the house and it's indeed a dangerous place to live in. How do the four deal with the ghosts? Why were they destined to be in the place? What are the ghosts looking for? Answers to these are found in the second half.
Before the film's release, the makers projected the night-blindness of a character, the cardiac weakness of another character, the split personality-type behaviour of yet another character as its USP. It is in the portions where a strange clash between these atypical characters and the largely benign ghosts happens that the horror-comedy assumes its proper form.
If Vennela Kishore tickles the funny bone with his terrific comedy sense (complete with those double meaning dialogues he unwittingly mouths), Shakalaka Shankar is made to spoof everyone from Pawan Kalyan, Balakrishna and Vikram to KA Paul! Srinivas Reddy's tensed moments with the drunkard Tagubothu Ramesh's foolhardy behaviour, not to speak of his predicament at having to witness Vennela Kishore calmness in the face of perceived danger from ghosts, is absolutely hilarious.
However, the laugh riot doesn't last long in this 123-minutes-long film. The second half is sheer delight by and large, whereas the first half falls short of rising above some cliches. Given the characters and their peculiar circumstances, the comedy quotient should have been higher right from the word go.
Taapsee, who was expected to be a major character, goes missing for a good amount of time. What is her state of mind and that of her fellow ghosts, who all share a traumatic present, is not properly told. Sure, the writer-director (Mahi V Raghava) steers clear of routine representation of spirits. Sure, he presents four ghosts who come with their sentimentality. Sure, the ghosts are not violently restless. But, on and on, their emotional turmoil becomes a mere footnote.
When it is time for the climax, we are treated to a primitive crime scene. The way the heart-wrenching crime was narrated, it would have spelled disaster if this were not a horror-comedy.
Perhaps playing it to the gallery on purpose, Mahi gives some basic lessons a miss. The interval bang is mercilessly suffered. What was the need for that 'Baahubali' parody? Just because the characters taking up the Great Ghost Challenge are comedians, should they be shown to take the oath pulling off a parody? Why strip the characters of their sentimental value, as if forgetting Taapsee & Co was not enough?
Somewhere in the second half, Srinivas Reddy explains the difference between 'badha' (agony) and 'bhayam' (fear) through a funny analogy. Had he explained it in a serious-minded lingo, his plight would have enjoyed the audience's sympathy even better.
Vennela Kishore and Shankar are the film's best comedians, while Srinivas comes third. Taapsee does a fine job and supports the humble horror-comedy at a time when her career is going strong in Bollywood. She deserves appreciation for this reason alone, if not for anything. Rajeev Kanakala has an extended role and is alright. Prabhas Sreenu and Vidyullekha Raman are good. Tanikella Bharani is OK, while Raghu Karamanchi delivers another fine act after 'Shamantakamani'. The old man is nice and the baby girl is cute.
K's BGM is apt, while the cinematography could have been better.
'Anando Brahma' comes into its own in the portions where the counter-intuitive element of humans scaring away ghosts comes to the fore. Good performances, too, make it a decent entertainer. The first half could have been much better on the comedy front.