Banners: Y Not Studios
Producer: S Sashikanth
Director: Ashwin Saravanan
Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Anish Kuruvilla, Vinodhini
Writers: Ashwin Saravanan & Kaavya Ramkumar, Shruti Madan (Dialogue)
Music: Ron Ethan Yohann
A suicidal gamer, a cancer survivor, a grieving mother and a serial killer… all these in one film make for either an edge-of-the-seat thriller or a very confused narrative! This Taapsee Pannu film has the makings of the former and maybe the latter as well.
The film opens with a young girl who lives alone. She is eating dinner and watching television in the comfort of her home. But, then, she is really not alone! She is being watched, and before you know it, she is being suffocated with a plastic bag being pulled over her head. In the next few minutes, she is beheaded, her body burnt and her head kicked around like a football by the killer!
And it’s game over!
We are introduced to Sapna, a game developer, who lives with her house help Kala and a security guard. Sapna works from home. The only time she leaves her home is when she is out for a jog or when she visits her doctor. She is afraid of the dark and spends most of her time with a joystick, playing PacMan when she is not developing games.
One day, Sapna experience a severe panic attack when she finds herself in a dark room. She also experiences severe pain in her wrist, where she had a tattoo of a game controller drawn a year earlier. She is left feeling extremely scared and tense. She visits her doctor and after a virtual reality test, he concludes that she is experiencing an ‘anniversary effect’. He explains that, whenever humans have a traumatic experience, the mind and body unconsciously start reliving it as the anniversary of the experience approaches. On New Year’s Eve, a year earlier, Sapna had experienced something dreadful and the doctor believes that the young woman is experiencing the anniversary effect.
Sapna also visits the tattoo parlour where she had got inked, only to find out that the ink used on her tattoo was ‘memorial ink’. Some people, to keep someone they have lost alive in their hearts, mix their ashes in ink and use it to create tattoos. Shocked at this discovery, Sapna decides to get it removed. She is also struggling with her fears and attempts several times to end her life. During one such attempt, she ends up breaking both her legs and is confined to a wheelchair.
One day, the mother of the girl whose ashes are in her tattoo comes to visit her. Sapna is moved by her story and it gives her new courage to fight her own fears. But there is a danger lurking in the shadows!
What is this danger that awaits Sapna? How will the tattoo change her life? What is the trauma that she faced? Will she overcome her fears?
This film is technically brilliant. The writers, Ashwin Saravanan and Kaavya Ramkumar, have packed the story with twists and turns, jump-scares and edge-of-the-seat moments. The use of metaphors all through the story is the USP of the film. But there are definitely moments where you feel the writers should have given us more.
The first hour is gripping and very well written. The remaining 40 minutes has its high points but the climax is a little underwhelming. The camera work is exquisite and makes the entire narrative a personal experience. The background score is most important in a film of this genre and Ron Ethan does not disappoint.
The film belongs to Taapsee. She once again proves that she is a powerhouse performer and can carry an entire film on her shoulders. Give her a good script and she can do wonders with it. She captures the pain, the fear, the angst… every emotion, to the fullest. This is a physically and emotionally demanding role and she is able get under the skin of the character perfectly. Vinodhini as Kala and Anish Kuruvilla as the doctor provide able support. Vinodhini has some stand-out moments and she makes the most of them.
Verdict: Worth a dekho!