Bhaagamathie Review - More meat than expected
Bhaagamathie springs in a few surprises. The most prominent being its intent to tell a tale. The trailer pretty much gave the 'same road yet again' feel. The film does traverse a similar path but there is atleast a wee bit of effort to keep us hooked to the plot. To put it in short, Bhaagamathie is one of those films that employs the horror tropes around a story and not the other way around. While it doesn't transfer as seamlessly on screen or with the kind of impact it might have hoped for, it definitely is a little respite for us from the all too familiar ghost stories that we get bombarded with. The film might not be very clever but it definitely tries to be one.
The disclaimer at the start read-out 'The film does not promote superstitious beliefs'. They should have definitely added 'a prisoner does not look as shown in the film' because when Anushka gets introduced from behind the bars she looks close to impeccable with her lipstick intact. But that should be the least concern for the audience who are used to 60 plus heroes sporting red lips. The film keeps it simple right from the start and the best aspect is that there is minimal flab. The comedy however doesn't work and the fact that the movie is dubbed might have contributed to this. Thankfully such attempts to evoke laughter are few and far between.
I had apprehensions that the movie might try to get too message heavy but it cleverly eschews that route midway and treats it like a masala vehicle, the big difference being that a woman is in charge here. The film has a few welcome surprises. For one, we have another woman (Asha Sharath) who is pitted against Anushka and the actress brings in a certain credibility to the role with her 'I mean business' attitude that she carries all along. Another pleasant surprise that might get unnoticed is that Anushka actually plays a 34 year old collector with 10 years of experience. Hopefully the days of always projecting the lead actress as someone fresh out of college are long gone. Ansuhka plays the role employing the right metre. She is subtle but ensures that she plays to the gallery when needed. The casting is pretty good with Jayaram, Unni Mukundan and Murali Sharma ensuring that they bring in something to roles that are all too familiar. The biggest takeaway for me was that the film was a far cry from the din fest that I had feared it to be. There are loud portions but everything is kept within a certain threshold. You cannot ask more when you have a villain who does not ham it up.
The film relies on twists in the second half and these actually work as much as they do not. You can see atleast a few of them coming (coupled with the fact that not all seem logical) but these are what ensure that Bhaagamathie stands out atleast a little from the crowd despite being mounted on a tried and tested horror template.
Bhaagamathie offers more than what the trailers promised and judging it by keeping in mind what its predecessors had in store, it is a step in the right direction.