Movie Review 'Achaaram': A tactfully arranged psychological thriller

DECCAN CHRONICLE | ANUPAMA SUBRAMANIAN
Published Jun 21, 2015, 12:10 am IST
Updated Jan 10, 2016, 8:50 am IST
Examining PTSD within such a limited framework stifles the impact it could have had
 
Cast: Ganesh Venkatraman, Munna, Poonam Kaur, Rekha
Director: Mohan Krishna
Rating: 2.5 stars
 
In ‘Achaaram’, Ganesh Venkatraman plays a deranged cop with a history of experiencing trauma and distress. The movie is a tactfully arranged psychological thriller directed by Mohan Krishna, and delivers a good dose of suspense and entertainment whilst eliciting your sympathies.
 
The movie starts with a cop, Surya (Ganesh.) His head seems to have gone down the loony bin – unable to distinguish personal tragedy from the hopes and dreams of others, he goes about murdering couples who have disobeyed their parent’s will by eloping and having romantic relationships. While these incidents get your anticipatory glands going, the movie backtracks to a time when Surya himself was full of love and hope. At some point in his past, this well-meaning cop had been convinced by his doting mom to have an arranged marriage. The bride – a Tanjore girl named Ramya (Poonam Kaur) gave Surya, a new lease on life. But unknown to him is the fact that she is in a relationship with someone else – Shiva (Munna), an architect. On the day of the marriage, she elopes with her boyfriend to get married separately, and unable to bear the shame and disbelief, Surya’s mom commits suicide.
 
Meanwhile, back in the present, Surya gets transferred to Kodaikanal, and is alerted of a robbery at the couple’s house. On inspection, something flickers in Surya’s mind – although he has never seen Ramya in person before, photographs and other descriptive memories probably connected a few dots, making him revisit the house, but for a different kind of inspection this time. Given his psychotic state, revenge is all he seeks. The finale culminates into an emotional quagmire, and is filled with passionate appeals, bloodshed, and sympathetic portrayals, while managing to keep us slightly suspended.
 
Ganesh has done a splendid job in ‘Achaaram’ as an emotionally distressed and sensitive cop. In the modern day idiom, his character was suffering from ‘post-traumatic stress disorder,’ and the film neatly encapsulates the patience and understanding that is required in overcoming mental illnesses. Poonam as the heroine brings in a lot of emotions and her liveliness lights up a number of scenes. Munna as the soft-spoken husband of Poonam delivers a good performance.  Others like OAK Sundar, producer Gnanadesh Ambedkar and Rekha have lent their support.  Cinematography by Prathap goes well with the mood of the film.
 
The downside of such a story and plot is that it is very small minded and backwards. While retribution, shame based suicides and getting obsessed on a single issue are still problems of today, the very Indian flavor these things take in this movie seems to undermine the global and progressive outlook that more and more people now have. Examining trauma and distress within such a limited framework stifles the power and impact the movie could have had.
 
Yet, good execution and noteworthy performances makes Achaaram a fulfilling experience.
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