Mumbai, 14 Jun 2019 16:00 IST
Updated: 15 Jun 2019 2:15 IST
Chakri Toleti's film neither has the cast to deliver the fear factor, nor the script.
Among the many questions that Chakri Toleti's Khamoshi (2019) raises is the mystery why people living in large mansions on remote estates in England employ few security guards. If only they had not skimped on security expenses, such serial murders would never happen.
If you worry that this reviewer has unwittingly given away a spoiler, you are an optimist of the highest standards. Chakri Toleti's film lacks a script to drive any thrill its story might have had, or the actors with the gravitas to push the macabre. What it has is a schizophrenic Prabhu Deva and Tamannaah Bhatia on mute playing a murderous game of hide and seek.
The journey begins with Tamannaah Bhatia's mute Surabhi narrating a prologue about her 'unspoken' tale of horror. How she speaks to the audience is yet another mystery that remains unsolved.
The macabre tale is set somewhere in England, where the adopted Surabhi has inherited the property. Ever the good-hearted orphan, she is set to donate a portion of the large estate to charity. She is opposed by Sanjay Suri and Bhumika Chawla who are the trustees.
Unknown to them, Dev (Prabhu Deva), a schizophrenic serial killer, has escaped from an asylum and come, murdering along the way, to the estate. Dev, egged on by the hallucinations of his father (Vikram Bhatt), is the child of Surabhi's adopted mother. As night falls, Dev starts wreaking havoc, murdering people one by one.
The thriller conveniently eliminates the risk of a screaming victim by making Surabhi mute and deaf. It is a great plot device, but, unfortunately, it is not exploited well. As Prabhu Deva haunts the vast estate, knocking off people one after the other, it leaves you wondering how long this chase will last. The loud background score preempts every thrilling scene, making it even less of a thriller.
But the illogical plot construction ensures that the chase does last long enough to turn off your interest. Chakri Toleti's tale of horror might have made an interesting short story, but as a film it is cumbersome.
The screenplay by Dheeraj Rattan meanders through unnecessary and clunky dialogues among the other characters. Most of these characters are constructed with no background or purpose, other than to be yet another victim.
Even the killer, Prabhu Deva, is reduced to functioning without logic. Just because the character is schizophrenic does not mean he has to abandon logic. Insanity works differently, when it is imbued with a fatal purpose. Toleti does not focus on that.
Incidentally, the film has a special thanks for Vikram Bhatt who has longer screen time than Sanjay Suri and Bhumika Chawla, who are hardly seen for 10 minutes. Vipin Sharma and Akash Khurana are the other unfortunate victims who make the obligatory appearances.
Prabhu Deva is reduced to a mumbling man trying to hunt a woman, who keeps escaping him in the simplest and most ridiculous ways. The thrills and suspense are predictable, adding a damning effect.
Tamannaah Bhatia has little to do (even her voice is taken away) other than appear scared. Why she keeps running back into the house instead of taking a car and escaping is another mystery that will remain unsolved.
The twist towards the end, when it arrives, feels like an attempt to keep the corpse warm. It makes you wonder what went through Toleti's mind, and the rest of the cast, when they decided to make the film.
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