BHAAGAMATHIE STORY: Accused of murdering her husband, IAS officer Chanchala (Anushka Shetty), is taken to a haunted house called Bhaaghamathie Bungalow, where police and CBI officials interrogate her to dig up dirt on a politician she had worked under. As she’s left alone in the haunted house, spirits take control of her and IAS Chanchala transforms into an unrecognisable person. How this impacts her and everyone around her forms the crux of the story.
BHAAGAMATHIE REVIEW: There’s always a thin line between being scary and being loud. Horror films are always difficult to make because you cannot really tell if you’re scaring the audience or boring them. Director G Ashok’s flirts with this thin line on more than one occasion in his ambitious venture ‘Bhaagamathie’. The much-awaited film, which has Anushka Shetty in the lead, has been touted as a horror-thriller and the filmmaker infuses generous doses of special effects, spooky background score and a typically deserted bungalow to bring about the desired result, not always succeeding at it. Except ‘Bhaagamathie’ is more than just a horror film — and that works in favour of the director.
The film begins with the rise of Eshwar Prasad (Jayaram), a politician who wins the hearts of the masses by vowing to change the system and dedicating his life to serve the people. Eshwar’s rise troubles his political rivals, who forge a plan to destroy his credibility with the help of CBI joint director Vaishnavi Natarajan (Asha Sarath) and Assistant Commissioner of Police Sampath (Murali Sharma). The two of them plan to interrogate IAS Chanchala (Anushka Shetty), a close confidante of Prasad who’s in jail for murdering her husband. To not arouse suspicion, they decide to shift her to Bhaagamathie Bungalow for the interrogation. As Chanchala stays locked up alone in a big bungalow, all hell breaks loose. Suddenly, we begin to realize that nothing is as it seems.
What works for ‘Bhaagamathie’ is that there’s never a dull moment in the film, and the director keeps the viewers hooked with constant twists and turns. Just when you think the film is going in one direction, you get surprised with a different twist. What seems utterly predictable is not quite the case, and unpredictability is a good trait to have while making a successful horror-thriller.
Trouble is that the horror element is exaggerated and fails to make an impact. With all the visual and sound effects, the idea of a dayyam (ghost/spirit) making noises is uninspiring. Ultimately, the ‘horror’ scenes in the film simply come across as loud and over-the-top.
Anushka Shetty is in her element — both as the scared prisoner locked up in a haunted house, as well as the honest IAS officer (flashbacks of her former self are shown right through the film). By now, the audience have come to expect a standard from Anushka, especially in roles like these — and the actress doesn’t disappoint.
Among the supportive cast, Murali Sharma, as always, is terrific. Asha Sarath is first rate, while Jayaram shines as the dedicated politician. Prabhas Sreenu’s attempt at humour falls flat. In fact, the rare scenes of comedy in this film are totally disappointing.
The story moves forward at a brisk pace and there’s enough element of surprise and suspense in ‘Bhaagamathie’, like any good thriller should have. And for that, director Ashok deserves credit. The only place where the director falters is while ensuring the horror element works, because without it, ‘Bhaagamathie’ is just like a beverage without the fizz.