Cast: Anjali, Sakshi Gulati, V Jayaprakash
Director: G Ashok
Rating: 2 stars
There's always a grey area involved when Science and Sadhus face-off in supernatural thrillers. On one side, there's pure logic and explanation about human psychology and behaviour. On the other side, there are various theories, which are open to interpretation and have many twists and turns to it. But eventually, it's always the Sadhus who are proven right, because it makes for a better story and hence a more interesting film.
Director Ashok's latest offering Chitrangada deals with reincarnation and the human soul's (athma as it's so commonly used in Telugu horror films) tendency to exact revenge on its killer.
Chitra (Anjali) is a happy-go-lucky assistant professor, who soon becomes friends with her students and starts living with them in a girls hostel. While Chitra seamlessly fits into the young crowd, students soon realise her tendency to touch women inappropriately, peep at them while they're changing and scare them at night. Chitra is thrown out of the hostel, and seems to have lost everything when she seeks help from Dr Shanmukh Neelakantan (V Jayaprakash). Soon, Chitra tells the doctor that she's haunted by a dream, in which she witnesses a murder. Her quest to rediscover the dream in real life and find justice for the killer, makes for the rest of the story.
There's an attempt to constantly keep moving the story forward, and for this the director deserves credit. For most part of the film, the screenplay keeps you hooked. Visuals are appealing, especially when the story moves to the United States. But the writing is haphazard and shoddy. There's almost no link between how the story begins and where it leads to. There are too many elements being added to the plot (almost on the go), turning it into more of a Kichdi than a story.
The insensitive handling of homosexuality is repulsive and cringeworthy. Characters in Chitrangada behave as if the idea of a girl being intimate with another girl is sinful and abnormal -- a regressive theory which sends the wrong message.
For those expecting Chitrangada to be a horror film will be utterly disappointed. There's absolutely no element of horror in the film. Only in the first 30 minutes do they even attempt to scare the viewers (and fail miserably).
The casting too is equally shoddy. Anjali does well but clearly struggles to see the film through and you couldn't help but feel at times that the film needed a more convincing protagonist. Sakshi Gulati does well as the doting friend (though it's still funny how she shows up out of nowhere and becomes an integral part of Chitrangada's story). Sapthagiri's antics hardly produce any laughs. In fact, his repetitive attempts at comedy is irritating. Jayaprakash, being the seasoned actor that he is, is first rate.
With a film that deals with reincarnation and spirits, there's hardly any argument that suggests they actually exist, while the execution leaves a lot to be desired. When all the pieces of the puzzle begin to come together, you will be underwhelmed by the outcome. And when the climax is unconvincing, the effort hardly seems worth your time.