Director: V Vignarajan
Cast: Vinoth Kishan, Arjun Das, Pooja Ramachandran, Misha Ghoshal and Jeeva Ravi
V Vignarajan’s Andhaghaaram, a truly one-of-its-kind directorial debut, is the kind of thriller that relies heavily on creating the mood but rarely on jump scares. This is one of the reasons why the film works and makes for a mostly engaging watch. By staying away from the usual tricks of the trade that are mostly associated with the supernatural genre, the film is a crash course in understanding the art of mood-building to make a viewing experience unimaginably immersive. Despite the film’s length (of nearly three hours), Andhaghaaram keeps one hooked with spectacular visuals and groundbreaking sound design.
The story follows four characters and their odd connection between them. Vinod (Arjun Das), a failed cricketer, Selvam (Vinoth Kishan), a visually-challenged librarian with some occult powers, Pooja (Pooja Ramachandran), a teacher for the blind and Dr Indran (Kumar Natarajan), a psychiatrist, cross paths and their lives come under some supernatural influence. As the story tries to unravel the connection and mystery between these characters, we are drawn into a visually compelling tale that creates a unique world.
Vignarajan’s writing – though complex for most part – is what makes Andhaghaaram an experience to savour. Instead of making a wholesomely compelling story, Vignarajan focuses on creating moments, scenes that leave a better impact on the viewer. If you judge the film scene by scene, you’re almost convinced it’s flawless, and aren’t too bogged down by the slightly underwhelming climax twist. Vignarajan is an exciting talent and one who wants to go against the grain to prove his versatility. When most thrillers are built on jump scares, Vignarajan believes in creating an experience more than anything else.
The casting is on point and it’s another prime reason why the film doesn’t disappoint. Vinoth Kishan as the blind librarian wins you over with a believable performance. As a viewer, you buy into his helplessness to save his father’s property. Arjun Das, after Kaithi, returns with another memorable act. As the lonely, failed cricketer, he excels in bringing out the aggressiveness and vulnerability of his character convincingly. Pooja Ramachandran and Kumar Natarajan, too, shine in their respective roles.
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Visually, Andhaghaaram is in a different league altogether. The technical crew deserves a special praise for making every scene stand out aesthetically. Even the most mundane shot is made to look so unique that you’re left to marvel at the screen. The film leaves a very striking mark with its visuals and sound design. In theatres, it would’ve made an even more appealing experience. Nevertheless, it’s still a thriller that marks the arrival of a filmmaker who needs to be taken seriously.
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