Friday, July 30, 2010
Of Haunted Houses . . .
Malayalam cinema, over the decades have had a good share of horror stories, or rather pretha kathas -- from gems like Bhargavinilayam, Kottaram Vilkanundu of yesteryear to slightly comic ones like Aakashaganga or revenge tragedies like Vellinakshtram and most recent Yakshiyum Njanum. Of late, there seems to have been a revival of interest in spooky stories, probably because of a serious dearth of good stories, or because all sequel-able movies have been sequelized. It is then only natural that film makers turn to horror stories -- an all time favourite genre cutting across age, gender et al. Deepu's Winter, and Shaji Kailas's Dhrona 2010, though different in terms of plot, are thematically similar -- haunted mansions.
Winter tells the story of Dr. Ramdas and his family, who move in to a bigger house to facilitate a larger space and an open area for their elder daughter who suffers from clinical depression. However, things go horribly wrong with the house being supposedly haunted by the ghost of a maniac who went around killing small girls. Seemingly inexplicable things happen in the house, which go against Dr. Ramdas's refined scientific sensibilities. he eventually gets convinced that here is something wrong with the house and relents to his wife's insistence on a Vaasthu consultation. The movie winds up to the conclusion that there is indeed another maniac on the prowl (supposedly inspired by his predecessor), who finally gets captured. Dr. Ramdas and family drops their plan of moving out and look forward to a happy stay in their newly-cleansed-of-all-hauntings; but, a shadow lurks as the night falls.
The movie is shot well, in dark hues, and the few sudden scene shifts produce the spooky effects quite successfully.While the plot seems solid, the story is rather shaky, and at times it feels like the script was improvised on the spot. At best the movie gives a crash course on the basics of vasstu shashtra !
Shaji Kailas's Dhrona 2010 is nothing but a rather unconvincing story about a haunted mansion, with a smattering of intellectually-driven, woman-led, family feud, which leads to the said mansion being wasted away. Located in the scenic village of Chembra, the movie relates the story of a woman, whose exceptional intelligence becomes her undoing, and gets her thrown out of her house. After her death, she comes to haunt the opposition family's mansion, killing all heirs. Only a celebrated Vaasthu master from a renowned family can rid the house of its hostile presence. But he gets killed in the process of de-haunting, and years later, it falls on his elder son to make things right.
Shaji Kailas does not seem to hold his fort, when there are no power-packed verbal bullets, stunts, police and politics. Though it begins well, the ending fizzles out to a brother avenging his sibling's death and restoring a house to its only surviving heir. At one point of time, one almost expects Mammooty to echo a certain Dr. Sunny who elaborates about " psychosisil ninnu thudangi neurosisil vannu nilkkunna ory tharam manasika vibhranthi ...." !
Both Winter and Dhrona advocate the significance of Vaastu in the planning of houses and, how it can act to the advantage and disadvantage of the inmates. Both the films seem to proclaim that what is usually termed badha is actually miscalculations in the vaastu of a building, and that all supposedly supernatural events (like burning curtains, howling sounds,breaking window glasses etc) have a scientific reason / cause behind them.