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Ateet review: Tacky family drama with an illogical twist

Release Date: 21 Apr 2020

Cinestaan Rating

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Suyog Zore

Directed by Tanuj Bhramar, this Zee5 original film is about a soldier who returns from the dead to his wife and daughter. 

Colonel Vishwakarma (Sanjay Suri), his wife Janhvi (Priyamani), and their young daughter Sanah (Deshna Dugad) seem to be a normal, happy family. However, Vishwakarma has yet to come to terms with his wife’s past. Things take a drastic turn when Janhvi's husband, Ateet (Rajeev Khandelwal), who was presumed dead in a war nine years ago, reappears.

Zee5's original film, Ateet is a family drama with elements of a supernatural thriller, started streaming on the OTT platform from 21 April. The film begins with a leisurely pace and takes its own sweet time in establishing the family dynamics of Vishwa, Janhvi and Sanah. We are also introduced to the army doctor, Masood (Vipin Sharma) and his wife, who is obsessed with vastu shastra [traditional Indian system of architechture].

When Ateet returns, he refuses to talk to anybody except Janhvi. Reluctantly, Janhvi agrees. How did Ateet survive? Where was he all those years? Why did he come back now? And why does he insist on only talking to Janhvi? Is Ateet is harboring a secret that could destroy her family? What is that secret?

The rest of the plot is about finding answers to these questions. Though the story has an inherent potential for drama and suspense, the writer, Harsshil R Patel and director, Tanuj Bhramar, fail to exploit it. The superficial treatment of characters adds to the misery.

The film revolves around three characters. Of them, Priyamani does get some moments to shine as the actress portrays a woman's dilemma of having to choose between two men. Her understated performance is the highlight of the film. Unfortunately, neither of the the two actors get sufficient screen time, nor are their characters fleshed out well enough for us to care about them. Due to the shallow storytelling, neither of the characters evoke empathy.

The film had ample opportunities to build on the tension between the wife and husband, once the wife's ex-husband returns. Instead, it shifts focus and introduces a new supernatural angle.

What was the nature of Janhvi and Ateet's relationship? How did she meet Colonal Vishwa? What was the dynamic between Colonal Vishwa and Ateet before he was presumed dead? Since we don't get the answers to these questions, we slowly stop caring about the characters and the final outcome. Once the film enters the supernatural territory, weird stuff starts happening for which there is no explanation in the film. After a point, you just give up and lose interest in the proceedings.

In fact, the supernatural angle is handled rather amateurishly. By not providing any logical explanation for it, Ateet propagates superstitious beliefs about ghosts.  

Ateet is set in a scenic town with hills and jungles, making it a perfect location for a horror film. But the hilly areas and the serene landscapes are wasted. Instead of using this to create an eerie atmosphere, the film relies on jump scares. This is just lazy film making. If you are going to use jump scares, why bother to shoot in such a scenic town. 

Despite these faults, Ateet could have worked, had the writer controlled the urge to add a huge twist in the climax. The illogical twist completely ruins any emotional connect the audience would have built with the characters.

The other technical departments also don't create any impact. The camerawork by Mukesh G is uninspiring and lacks creativity. As mentioned above, he fails to take full advantage of the eerie atmosphere of the town.

The film has two songs, both of which are composed by Harish Sagane. The first song is sung by Sonu Nigam and is used as a story device to establish the relationship between Janhvi and Vishwa. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about other song. 

Overall, Ateet is an unimaginative family drama with an incomprehensible twist.

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