Aadupuliyaattam review: Intriguing Tale, Bad Execution

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After a while, I came across a big social media advertising about a horror film starring Jayaram and Ramya Krishnan. After winning our hearts and respect with her massive portrayal in Baahubali, Ramya Krishnan’s presence in this film drew my curiosity. Until today, Malayalam industry in general, have not released a perfect horror film. The concept of the “ghost” is different in India compared to overseas due to the difference in religious customs so it is well visible in major themes presented. The stories usually used in a horror film context is unique and intriguing enough to capture the audience’s expectations and interests, what goes wrong is in the execution of the film. That is exactly what went wrong in the case of aadupuliyaattom.

The movie starts with the concept of the statue of goddess Kali, in which the spirit of Sempaka is locked in. Sempaka sacrificed her life to protect her husband from his enemies and her spirit kept the army away. Years later, a businessman named Satyajit (Jayaram) buys the Sempaka kottai (palace), the palace that’s been abandoned for centuries. He helps the poor as per his wife Amala’s (Sheelu  Abraham) wishes. He has a past where he was nothing. He is visibly haunted by unknown spirits who seem to threaten his wife and daughter Aami (Akshara). On his psychiatrist’s advice, he goes to visit a Yogi (Om Puri) who asks him to redeem his past sins which started with his affair with a woman named Mathangi (Ramya Krishnan) at Sempaka Kottai, with resulted in the death of her daughter Malli.

I have a read a lot of negative reviews about how this movie was overdone and concur with them. They had an enthralling narrative with apt buildup which slowly introduced each plotline. First, we get to know Sempaka’s story followed by Satyajit’s encounter with Yogi and finally the tragedy which led to the haunting of the house. The build-up of the plot is fascinating and the director tried to center the horror with apt visuals. If the movie is scary, it is not because of the characters or the repugnant CGI, it is because of the cinematography. Some of the stills had unexpected occurrence within the frame and these add up to the horror, though it is not exceptional, the director tried to capture the essence. But overall the execution is unpalatable. The major issue is the slapstick comedy which had overacting, actions which affected the pacing and misogynist overtones which will never leave the sense of humor, even if the base theme is about feminine power. Some of the comic sequences are so distasteful that I ended up fast-forwarding them. While the build-up of the tale was so intense the ending turned out to be too abrupt and we will end up thinking “is that it?“. The direction including overacting and CGI which made it look like a cartoon than a proper horror. I simply wish that they stuck to using camera techniques instead of unnecessary motion effects sequences. The obvious aspect is what brings the quality down. Malayalam industry have gone ahead in terms of technical aspects and support in terms of cinematography and editing but have miles to go researching more on visual effect with CGI. Jayaram was good but not great. We will despise his character even he tries to redeem himself as his action lacked the proper punch when compared to the sins he committed. Jayaram has done so many anti-hero characters and seemingly aadupuliyattam is a combination of all those characters. Ramya Krishnan added her sparks and her presence is worth mentioning. Baby Akshara, who won the hearts of Malayalam audience with her presence in TV series “karuthamuthu“, did an adorable appearance although her initial presence was limited to smiling and chattering. The scenes she shouted in Tamil was strong enough but in others the technical support she had to perform seemed obvious. Her presence in TV series is a big limitation as the acting style in serial is different from film’s natural performance, hopefully Akshara will stick to her film style. Everybody else was just an average in this movie while Saju Navodaya’s comic acting is major limitation to the movie’s pacing. Om Puri delivered an adept performance but only in terms of his gestures. The dubbing looks obvious.

The best thing that can be said about aadupuliyaattam is that, it was an attempt, a fine attempt where they have managed to extract good performances from the child actors and cinematographic style was sufficient. With the removal of slapstick comedy, proper polishing of the character and better development of the three-act structure, this movie could have been better. Aadupuliyattam can be enjoyed based on one’s interests, but you will forget this movie after half an hour, mostly due to the fact that one may end up comparing it with Vinayan’s “vellinakshathram”.

2.5/5

Featured image: youtube.com

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