'Gruham', starring Siddharth, Anisha Victor, Atul Kulkarni, Andrea Jeremiah, Suresh and others, hits the screens this Friday. Here is our review.
Krish (Siddharth), a neurosurgeon, and his wife Lakshmi (Andrea Jeremaiah), live in a secluded house on the foothills of the Himalayas when a businessman Paul (Atul Kulkarni) and his family move into the house next door and become friends.
The adolescent daughter of Paul, Jenny (Anisha Victor), who is into drugs, starts experiencing paranormal situations in their house. One day when Jenny in an inebriated condition jumps into a well on the premises, Krish dives in to save her and he too is jolted by an unknown force after which all their lives change for the worse.
Whether the inexplicable happenings are due to the psychological disorder of Jenny or is it an evil force that is out to get the two families is told, is the crux of the film.
'Gruham'. Its tropes and some scenes defy conventions but its story is largely formulaic. It's because of the merits that the film becomes worth a watch. It's because of its flip side that it seems to hard sell itself for a good part of the second half.
The tropes that make it special are interesting. For once, ghosts affect not one but two houses, including the neighbourhood. For another, there are well-meaning ghosts that are at loggerheads with an evil-spirited ghost. And we are yet to describe the film's awesome visuals and decent performances (more on this later).
The scene in which psychiatrist Suresh sums up the teen Jenny's case is beautifully shot with graphics of texts.
What makes the "pure horror" a tedious watch is that it takes its sweet time to involve one of the major characters in its game-changing event (that comes in the finale). For a good part, this character is a mere tourist (albeit very involved with the place he is visiting) till the climax.
When you know a person can be life-threatening, you use your brains and more than a few human resources to contain him in time. Lakshmi doesn't do it even when she has the time and opportunity to pull that off. It may sound too mundane a question but such lacunae are quite serious.
By and by, the story meanders into the familiar territory of solar eclipses, human sacrifice and 'Conjuring' like demonic ghosts. The flashback of the ghosts is a big let down.
Sid is all style and energy in the first half, especially the countless smooching and make outs with Andrea. Andrea nowadays is getting roles that suit her persona and she is perfect as Lakshmi, the modern wife, who loves and is quite assured even after knowing that Jenny has feelings for Krish. For her role, with multiple liplocks and rather explicit lovemaking scenes, she has gone farther than any conventional heroine in South Indian cinema by existing standards.
Anisha Victor as the troubled teenaged girl has not only given a riveting performance but also has gone through a lot of physical exertion to nail her role. Avinash Raghudevan looks every bit the exorcist but his underwritten role. Seasoned actors Atul Kulkarni and Suresh as the psychiatrist are flawless while the rest of the cast are on par.
Sound designer Vishnu Govind and his team have done a terrific job of keeping the audiences on their toes. Technically the film is excellent, transporting the viewer to the cold climate in which the story happens and the art director also deserves a pat on the back.
Songs by Girish are lilting and Vishnu Govind along with Rahamathulla scores once again on an excellent background score to go with his sound effects. Cinematography by Shreyas Krishna and editing by Lawrence Kishore are top class. Milind Rau and Siddharth's screenplay seems heavily inspired by the likes of 'The Ring' and 'Conjuring' but the film is technically sound and the director has made an impressive debut that is long overdue.
'Gruham' is visually pleasing and technically cut above the rest. The performances are true-blue. But if you go expecting chilling sequences and a pathbreaking story, 'paisaa vasool' will elude you.