Andhaghaaram Tamil Movie

Feature Film | 2020 | Dark, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller | 2h 51min
Much of Vignarajan's directorial debut film keeps us in the dark about what is happening to its characters. The multiple storylines never quite add up. Nevertheless, the makers have an eye for detail and style sense, which make Andhaghaaram barely watchable despite the ambiguity in it.
Nov 25, 2020 By Sreejith Mullappilly

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Much of Vignarajan's directorial debut film, Andhaghaaram, keeps us in the dark about what is happening to its characters. There is a psychiatrist, Jeeva Ravi's Dr. Vasanth, with some kind of ulterior motive. There is a blind librarian, Vinoth Kishan's Selvam, with the power to communicate with dead people. There is a young cricket coach, Arjun Das's Vinod, who keeps getting mysterious telephone calls at his home. Their lives are somehow connected, but I am not sure it all quite adds up.

The telephone sometimes dials itself. The device's receiver also stands up on its own as if someone is holding it. Vinod is as clueless about who the caller is as us. Are all these events figments of his imagination, as one of his friends thinks? The film revolves around his character who tries to find the identity of the caller and that person's motive.

The Netflix film is a supernatural thriller, so there are more fudging and mumbo jumbo here than meaningful dialogue. This never helps us with regards to understanding the movie properly. I do not believe in the supernatural, so the factor that often determines my investment in a supernatural movie is the director's storytelling ability. As for storytelling, Vignarajan's work is about sub-par. He switches back between the past and the present without giving us any clue that there are changes in the timelines. In many scenes, it took me a while to realize that a particular event is in the past, whereas another is in the present.

But you keep watching this thriller for the performances are authentic and there is something classy about its making. I must admit that I have a stomach for even the slowest of movies. For example, it did not bother me much when the psychologist in outer space from Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris kept staring at some painting for minutes. The Tarkovsky movie earned that kind of approach to filmmaking. But Vignarajan's work barely convinces us that such a slow-burning approach to a thriller is earned. So, it is an issue when the protagonist spends much time going around a room, trying to make some sense of an occult event. All it does is prolong the running time to around 3 hours.

Vignarajan has some style sense, though, just like his producer Atlee. This explains why their Andhaghaaram has top-notch production values. There is something stylish about even a blind man putting on his eyewear while saying something as classy as, 'Naan paakatha karuppa?' Which basically translates to this: 'Is there any darkness that I have not seen?' It is classy, can appeal to the masses, and is symbolic of an auteur. Vignarajan also has an eye for detail, best exemplified by a scene where Arjun Das sticks pages from a book on his wall. The performances are also fine. I wonder how the actors could act with so much conviction when little is known to them. Now, if only there were the same level of attention to detail for the script.

Sreejith Mullappilly