First of all, Key is a cheap frame to frame copy of 2009 thriller, Exam directed by Stuart Hazeldine.
I hate to watch a copy, off late this has become a routine. Not just Telugu movies, but in other languages as well. Take for instance, Ghajini, a copy of "Memento" or Chocolate, copy of "Usual Suspects" to the most recent Faltu, a copy of "Accepted".
On the other hand, we also have movies such as Sholay, originally inspired from "Magnificent Seven" and Rang De Basanti, based on "Jesus of Montreal", though made based on these films, were so brilliantly executed that people could hardly identify any flaws. That's art of filmmaking, isn't it?
Let's talk about Key. The story is gripping, new and psychologically puzzling. Based on the premise, when confronted with pressure and trauma, humans indulge in what we call emotional hijacking, where they lose control over emotions and do what they're not supposed to do.
The story revolves around nine characters who have applied for one vacancy in a company. In order to make it, they have to sit through a psychological exam and clear it. Nine candidates, one vacancy, one question, that's all they have to answer. On being handed over the question paper, contestants realize that they have a blank question paper in front of them. Now, they need to figure out the question and answer it as well.
What follows is 80 minutes of intense pursuit for a question and answer, alongside battling each others' emotions to win over each other.
The plot, originally raised curiosity and anxiety, to know what will happen to the contestants. However, in Key it failed to do so, not only the adapted screenplay failed to do the magic but it made things awry. Had only the director, instead of lifting scenes frame to frame from the English version, could have borrowed the theme, tweaked it a little and made it look better.
Now, the performance of the actors wasn't noteworthy, not only they underperformed, but looked artificial compared to actors in the original version. Play both the movies simultaneously, you will actually find that the actors in Key, literally tried to mimic their international counterparts. Pathetic! Except Jagapathi Babu, who had brief screen time, others were total let down.
Some good points about the film include: Cinematography and Art Direction. Yes, cinematography was crisp and chic. Details of every short were top class, although few seemed redundant but overall, the effort was worth it and visible on screen.
Art Director deserves special appreciation. Not only did he create an environment so suitable for the theme of the film, but was smart enough to replicate every detail from the English version to the native one. Entire film is shot in a single room. Therefore, lot of emphasis was needed to be given to nook and corner of the room.
Be it the pencil in the contestants' hands or the light between the chasms within the wall. Lot of detailing was required and fortunately that was completely given. One would criticize and say, Art Director hardly showed any novelty, as he had to just reproduce the same room from the original. However, it isn't easy to reproduce something so elegantly.
For most part, this film looks like a television film, and not only is it bland but irksome at some point as well. That's truly because the effort was futile, or should we say not up to the mark. Either which way you put it, I'm sure that anybody would feel that the film, spearheaded by strong script failed miserably. As I understand, this was a bad move by the director to try something so offbeat. Although audience always welcome offbeat stories, but the guarantee that every attempt will succeed is implausible.
Key, lives only for about 15 minutes, passes away after that. Tragic!
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