Tollywood director G Ashok's tri-lingual thriller Bhaagamathie took five years in the making as the filmmaker wanted to rope in Anushka Shetty for the title role who was busy finishing her pending projects. Watch this film and you will know why five years were worth waiting for. Anushka Shetty has proved again with her terrific performance that she still remains one of the best woman actors who has the command over her characters.
Though the film's trailer would give you a slight touch of Anushka's Arundhathi, the director pulls the rug beneath you as Anushka gets into the skin of Bhaagamathie's character towards the end of the first half. You are then taken for a ride full of spooky yet predictable elements.
If you think the movie is all about horror, you got it wrong. It will take off the masks of many a politician. There are tales of love and trust and a search for truth in a figurative narration. The focus is more on the script and few twists and turns in the second half make it all the more compelling.
There is a village, which is under the spell of an evil spirit and then we are introduced to minister Eshwar Prasad (Jayaram) who has risen to popularity for his virtuous deeds. His foes in his own political party hatch a false case to taint him. Vaishnavi Natarajan (Asha Sarath), a CBI officer is roped in to interrogate Chanchala IAS (Anushka Shetty), a personal assistant to Eshwar Prasad, who is already under remand for killing a social worker.
Chanchala is taken to a deserted bungalow that was once the abode of Bhaagamathie, under the supervision of ACP Sampath (Murali Sharma). Vaishnavi tries her best to pressurize Chanchala to make her speak against Eshwar Prasad but to fail terribly.
Everything is so predictable in the first half of the film which reminds us of Manichitrathazhu to some extent. The horror aspect slowly takes the center stage towards the end of the first half. Chanchala walks into the eerie bungalow evoking an atmosphere of fear and dismay - pale and dusty windows, shaky stairs, books and paintings narrating the story and presence of the queen Bhaagamathie- create the usual setting of a horror genre.
But Ashok's master script will not disappoint you as the second half turns into a conflict with a lot of twists making the predictable, a little unpredictable. Anushka, with her masterclass act shifts from a bold Chanchala to a more vindictive Bhaagamathie with ease.
It talks about trust, love, deceit, vengeance, and politics. Using a non-linear narrative, we get to know the love life of Chanchala and Sakthi with very little screen space for Unni Mukundan in his Tollywood debut. With pulsating background score which will ring in your ears long after you have left the theaters, loud screeches, bang of doors and window panes, and a dramatic twist, the narrative keeps you hooked. Will Eshwar Prasad be trapped? Why did Chanchala kill Sakthi? How will Bhaagamathie take revenge? The rest of the story will give you the answers to these questions but Ashok leaves the film open ended. It seems what Ashok wanted was a true Anushka show and his wait seems justifiable.
Bhaagamathie is a well-scripted movie with a logic. Asha Sarath's performance is commendable but the Malayalam dubbing has taken a toll on its artistic milieu. Unni Mukundan has very little screen space and his character is nothing new to the Kerala audience. Jayaram has essayed a class act as Eshwar Prasad. His performance is something we may not have witnessed in recent years.
Rating: 3 / 5