Malayalam Review

Bhramam

Bhramam, currently streaming on Prime Video, is an official remake of Sriram Raghavan’s crime drama, Andhadhun (2018), which itself was inspired by the French short film L’Accordeur (The Piano Tuner, 2010). While the director and cinematographer, Ravi K Chandran, remains safely faithful to Sriram’s version, Bhramam still comes up short when compared to the original.

As in Adhadhun and so too in Bhramam, ambitious blind pianist Ray Mathews (Prithviraj Sukumaran) earns his livelihood by giving music lessons. He comes across the perky and vivacious Anna (Raashi Khanna). whose father, Simon (Rajesh Babu), impressed by his musical skills, employs him at his hotel as a pianist. However, we see that Ray only pretends to be blind so that he can reap benefits from his differently-abled situation. During one of Ray’s performances, he comes across an actor of yesteryear, Uday Kumar (Shankar Panicker, a prominent romantic hero of Malayalam cinema of the 1980s), who is impressed with his recital. When Uday invites Ray over to his place for a private concert on the eve of his wedding anniversary, Ray immediately agrees. The next day, when he reaches Uday’s apartment, Ray encounters his young and lissome wife, Simi (Mamta Mohandas), a struggling actress.What ensues hereafter is a cat-and-mouse affair where the fate of the principal characters depends on their levels of shrewdness, deceit and luck.

The universe of Bhramam is inhabited by individuals, all of whom display a deceptive casualness. If Ray impersonates blindness, Simi has a clandestine affair with a well-built macho police officer, Dinesh (Unni Mukundan). When Ray gets hurt after a chase with Dinesh, Lopus (Aneesh Gopal)  brings him to Dr Swamy’s (Jagadish) shady clinic not because he’s wounded but for other intentions. Even in the climax of the film, the tale narrated by Ray to Anna is ambiguous and we are not sure as to it being true or not. But despite having such layered and unscrupulous characters with their shades of greys, the screenplay of the film by Sarat Balan suffers from inadequate directorial execution. The framings, mostly distant from the characters, alienate us rather than make us empathize with any of them. Consequently, we are unable to go along with them, feel for them and partake in their manoeuvring and scheming. It also doesn’t help that the narrative unfolds at a hurried pace without giving us any breathing space or introspective moments. The interval point as well as the climax appear like botched-up replicas of the original film.

The actors try and do whatever they can but even here it is a mixed bag. Prithviraj Sukumaran shoulders the entire responsibility to hold the film together and succeeds somewhat with his fine performance. More than his restrained facial expressions and reactions, it is the tonality and modulation of his voice that adds considerable flesh and blood into Ray Mathew’s character. On paper, the character of femme fatale Simi seems to be well-written with different layers of duplicities and nuances. But Mamta Mohandas’ inadequate interpretation ends up making her rather uni-dimensional. Raashi Khanna, as the other female lead, compensates and plays her role with enthusiasm, delivering a zesty performance. Unni Mukundan fails to convince as the cop while Ananya, Jagadish and Aneesh Gopal manage to create likable characters, who bring some much-needed comic relief to the film.

Technically, Ravi K Chandran the cinematographer scores over Ravi K Chandran the director. The frames are sleek, stylish and well-composed but fail from a directorial point of view in bringing out the story effectively. The polished lighting fails to evoke the gritty mood at times and even a veteran editor like A Sreekar Prasad struggles with the material to create a coherent and seamless flow to the narrative. The rhythm and pace is inconsistent and fails to draw us in. The background score by Jakes Bejoy works sporadically but not in its entirety.

Bhramam highlights the fact that a perfectly good screenplay based on previously filmed material can yet be turned into a below average endeavour. A disappointment to say the least.

Score30%

Malayalam, Thriller, Color

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