Athiran: A fascinating thriller that deserves a big screen watch
Athiran has to be one of the most secretive films made in Malayalam cinema in recent times. All through the shoot and post-production, the makers were tight-lipped about the genre and all other details. And as it turned out to be, that has proved to be a great call as it raised the curiosity of what’s in store. The trailer, which was out just a few days back before release, gave slight hints but without revealing too much about the storyline. So the intrigue factor was there throughout. Let’s see what the movie eventually has to offer.
The movie is set in the early 70s in a mysterious mental asylum that’s located deep in the forests, far away from regular human settlements. For a mystrey thriller like this, it’s the best possible ambience. Add to that, the asylum resembles a haunted palace with only a handful of inhabitants. Dr MK Nair from Trivandrum Medical College reaches the hospital for inspection and submit a report to the government. But on his arrival, he senses something worth with the place and goes on unraveling quite a few mysteries. What’s the mystery? Does he manage to resolve them? Let’s not go further and spoil the fun.
Debutant director Vivek’s storyline is quite simple and has some obvious inspirations, but as a director he shows a lot of promise. Aided by PF Mathews’ skills as a screenwriter, Vivek has churned out a quality mystery thriller, that’s very unusual in Malayalam. If one pays close attention to the proceedings, the plot becomes predictable after a point, but it’s still a very engrossing watch.
For a mystery thriller to work, creating the right ambience is very important. Vivek and his team of technicians devise an atmosphere that’s spooky and enthralling at the same time. Anu Moothedath’s cinematography is devoid of gimmicks and instead relies in an organic tension building process. He is ably supported by Ghibran, whose background score is the real backbone of the movie. A particular bit that he has composed for the Kalari portions was kick-ass. The score helps a great deal in holding our attention and keep us on the toes. The three songs composed by PS Jayahari are perfectly in blend with the narrative, especially the title track that conveys the mood perfectly and sets the ball rolling.
Coming to the performances, Sai Pallavi and Fahadh Faasil hold most of the screen space and it’s the former who emerges the winner. Not that Fahadh isn’t impressive; he is in his elements, but Sai Pallavi has the more challenging part to essay and she nails it. Since the character is autistic, the actress mouths only four to five words in the entire movie, but for a gifted actor like her, dialogues hardly matter. I’ve always felt that Renji Panicker has a mass appeal that no other senior actor has, and ‘Athiran’ is yet another testament to that.
Bottom line is that ‘Athiran’ is an experiment that ticks almost all the right boxes. It is totally worth the time and money. Just make sure you watch it in a theatre with good sound system and projection.