Psycho - An unsettling thriller where the intent to shock overrides emotional connect!
Myskkin wastes no time in letting us know what we are in for store in Psycho. A young girl is lying chained on a table. We have a squeamish few seconds and the dreaded happens before the title in bloody red pops up against a pitch black background. In a way, these two colours define the film. A bloodthirsty psychopath who finds peace in the red fluid and a visually challenged guy who is on his trail and can see only black!
You see what an able filmmaker does when he wants to educate the audience on who a psychopath is before getting into the narrative. What we have on screen is a lecture but this isn't a scene that is hanging loose from the rest of the narrative or the central characters. A psychiatrist is the one giving this lecture and it happens on a talk show hosted by a RJ who is a central character and a potential future victim. The scene also prepares us (and the RJ character ) to get an idea of the thought process behind these psychopaths.
This isn't a film that tries to hide the killer from us. His identity is revealed right at the start and the narration is more about how Gautham (Udhayanidhi) tracks him down to save his love (Aditi) with the help of Kamala (Nithya). Myskkin revels in sketching eccentric characters and is also emphathetic towards them. He ensures we understand as to why they behave so. Director Ram who plays a cop investigating the case keeps singing songs at the oddest of circumstances. This comes across as a gimmick at first but in a much later scene we get to know his troubled past and these songs are the best friend for this loner. Similarly the Kamala character (who is tied to a wheelchair) abuses in the choicest of words. In a scene when asked to shut up she replies that her mouth is the only organ in her body that works and you understand that it also doubles up as the only let out for all her frustrations and helplessness. As in all his films, Mysskin treats sex workers with utmost dignity. In Psycho, the killer uses them as surrogates whenever his intended preys escape. What a way to establish how the society uses these people to bear the brunt of its sins.
But for all the visual wizadry and intensity on display, Psycho never achieves the emotional connect it ought to have. When an important character is killed towards the end, it doesn't sting us the way it should as this entire sequence has been manipulated to evoke sympathy. You don't expect an important character in such a film to stupidly walk into danger as a teenager would walk into a haunted house in a horror film. Aditi's father is left out of the picture conveniently after she goes missing. The visually challenged hero driving a car also seems to be an exercise merely to create a sense of excitement out of nowhere. The police having no clue but the hero hardly putting a false foot throughout the film is also stretching it a bit too much.
The film addresses an important issue of what happens when perfectly natural urges are suppressed in the name of religion and God. Psychopaths aren't only serial killers. When you are blinded by religion and God with no empathy towards fellow beings you are a psychopath and you play havoc in others' lives. Psychopaths don't roam around peculiarly as aliens. Isn't someome who kills his own kid for marrrying outside caste and religion a psychopath? Isn't someone who shames a kid for pleasuring himelf and resorting to sadistical violence in the name of discipline a psychopath?
The casting of the pyschopath in the film is terrific. His face isn't repulsive but bears a raging anger that stems from his innocence and helplessness. He even moves around like a kid waiting for his next chocolate.
A gripping thriller that is certainly an experience to behold. But not Mysskin's best in creating endearing characters.