'Akam', Shalini Usha Nair's adaptation of Malayattoor's celebrated novel 'Yakshi', has Fahad Fazil playing Sreenivas, a young and handsome architect who's a wizard at work, and who has women folk around him eating out of his palms. A fateful accident in the dead of a night, changes it all for Sreeni, as his girlfriend Taara (Shelly Kishore) disappears off his radar, and he is left alone in the world with a whole lot of memories and a disfigured face.
The post traumatic stress disorder that propels Sreenivas into a flurry of fragmented thoughts is just the beginning of a disorientation in the man, that eventually builds into a schizophrenic frenzy. He casts his newly wedded wife Ragini (Anumol) into the midst of this whirlpool, even as she remains oblivious of her impending undoing.
The mystery that pervades the literary piece is retained to the hilt in 'Akam', which makes it a worthy watch. The film as such remains a detailed and stirring exploration into the scarred psyche of a man, who is lost in a miasma, incapable of a differentiation between truth and lies, facts and fiction.
The seeds of suspicion in Sreeni's mind are planted by his boss CK (Prakash Bare), and the questions, the answers for which he goes searching thereafter are less of queries and more of judgments. He goes round and round, arriving at the same crossroads time and again, and desperately tries to add up to the tale that his mind has been frantically crafting all the while.
Shalini Usha Nair's 'Yakshi' does not stick to white, and is dressed in saris, the colors of which remind you of raw earth, and the heady scent that emanates from it when it rains. To Sreenivas, however, she emanates a fragrance of the white Paala flowers, and seems to float around, her supple feet never touching the ground.
In one of the many taxing exercises that he takes up in pursuit of her, Sreenivas goes up and around a winding staircase on to the top of a light house, to discover her dressed in black, gazing at the sea far down below. She turns around and he is taken aback, as on many other occasions when she seems to be playing with a sly smile that disappears as swiftly as it had appeared in the corner of her lips.
It's only a while, when the suspicions that plague Sreeni's mind make their way across the screen and frostily engrave themselves on the viewer's minds. As much as you realize that Sreeni has been steadily losing his balance and moving to a point of no return, you squint your eyes and take a closer look at Ragini, trying desperately to offer some substance to her indistinct outline that has been threatening to cast a spell over your mind as well.
Fahad hits the right notes as Sreeni, and given the actor's consistently impressive performances in film after film, this one isn't a surprise. But the scene stealer in 'Akam' is Anumol, who is remarkably good as Ragini, and who brings about a stealthy chilliness to her portrayal of the ethereal woman that her husband believes her to be.
Christopher John Smith and his camera place an array of visual challenges before the viewer, that often further add to the mysterious feel that lingers throughout. Lurking around Ragini on the dimly lit lanes and dark beaches where she wanders, it draws in the very last bit of secrecy that enshrouds her, further blowing up the haze.
Questions on belief and the lack of it are tossed around in 'Akam', a highly satisfying cinematic experience that comes up with insights of immense significance. Somber and extremely suspenseful, the illusory texture of its narrative turns out to be of a class of its own.