horror movies have become the most preferred in kollywood, since at least one movie of the genre is released every month. While most comedies mix with the horror genre, there are few movies that emerge as genuine horror films. ‘kalam’ directed by newcomer robert.s.raj and written by subish chandran falls into that rare category of horror movies. the film dominated by newcomers or lesser-known actors has managed to create a positive buzz with its impressive trailer.
an unscrupulous businessman (madhusudhan rao) continues to grab land and property through illegal means. he acquires a zamindar bungalow by transferring it to his name by fraudulent means ‘gives it to his son gautham (amzath) and his wife (priya) lakshmi priya and his daughter returning to india from us to stay here.
The couple has some scary experiences in the house. An artist (pooja) who visits the house says that there is a presence of the spirit of a scion of Zamindar, who committed suicide in the house and warns Priya to be careful. the pair seek the help of a nakulan (shrini) exorcist to get rid of the ghost.
The rest of the film is about what happens to Gautham and his family.
The film begins with a very in-depth introduction to each character and their background. the first 20 minutes or so have been taken to establish the character of madusudhan rao and his strained relationship with his son, who is against his father’s way of doing business. the film deliberately moves at an extremely slow pace.
even the representation of the presence of a spirit and the scenes intended to create horror follow the formulaic route and have little impact. both halves predominantly consist of such uninteresting horror scenes with repeated ideas that they hardly serve to horrify us and sadly fail to even hold our interest.
but the last twenty minutes of the movie that comes with a superb twist and an interesting idea behind it comes as a great surprising relief. after the real truth is revealed, we were somehow able to feel that the film should have been a very good plot on paper that failed to transform as a film.
We also feel that the plot or this idea is not enough to sustain a movie lasting one hour and 45 minutes. as a result, many cutscenes and extremely slow narration appear to be a deliberate attempt to lengthen the length of the film. maybe this plot in its current form would have been enough for a good short film or a TV movie lasting 45-60 minutes.
To make it a watchable feature film, the writer should have beefed up the script with a few more story dimensions. some more ideas and some good/different scenes. it may be that they could have at least allotted more time to establish the characters behind the ghostly experiences that haunt the house.
There are also some logical questions left unanswered in the way the twist is revealed, but that’s not much of a bother.
Technically, the film is top notch. cinematographer mukesh.g impresses with perfect lighting, tones and angles. night scenes are captured very well. Senthil Kumar’s art direction is another big plus. the appreciable artwork includes the setting of the house, the memorials to the dead, and the elements used to invoke horror. Prakash Nikki’s reshoot is apt in other scenes, while it’s formulated in horror scenes.
amzath is convincing in his role. his performance is particularly noticeable when he expresses guilt that his wife and daughter are affected by his father’s sins. lakhmi priya offers a realistic portrait of a young upper-class housewife who is basically kind and innocent. Shrini, who appears in the second half as the exorcist, has something else to offer and his overall performance is commendable. pooja is adequate as her, while madhu sudhan rao is as menacing as ever in a bad character. Nasser’s character appears as a cameo as the twist unfolds and the veteran makes an impact with the couple of scenes he acts out.
verdict: ‘kalam’ which comes with a good twist, commendable technical prowess and appreciable performances is let down by a weak script.