Vichitram tries to weave a story with relationship fallacies circumambulating a soft horror element placed at the centre

Vichitram tries to weave a story with relationship fallacies circumambulating a soft horror element placed at the centre

We are certainly living through interesting times when horror movies cease to scare you for the sake of it but uses the genre to say something more other than the age-old story of a haunted house.

Achu Vijayan’s debut directorial Vichitram too has a haunted house at its centre, but it just happens to be one of the many elements in the film. It is rather a tool to study the unravelling and knitting together of relationships within two families.

Jasmine (Jolly Chirayath)’s household with five sons, and her baking job as the only source of income, is reminiscent of the troubled family in Kumbalangi Nights in its disjointedness. Jackson (Shine Tom Chacko), the eldest, is the typical jobless, wayward youth, who is out to make some quick money from one ponzi scheme or the other. Joy (Balu Varghese), the second one, is on the lookout for ideas to make the next viral content. The middle one, an aspiring footballer, is the odd one out, as someone who seems to have some focus. The two younger ones are identical twins, who are kind-hearted and sort of lost in their dream worlds. Their father, who passed away, is a constant, invisible presence in their everyday lives.

Financial problems are gnawing at the family from all sides, when they are asked to move into a mansion after the passing of Jasmine’s brother Alexander (Lal). Jasmine has some history with that mansion, which she had left behind for love. The mansion, which has all the required look and feel of a haunted house, also has a history of suppressed love and curtailed freedoms. A host of metaphors, from caged rabbits to a butterfly caught inside a glass, are used to underline this fact.

The script by Nikhil Raveendran and Vineeth Jose seamlessly gels the present travails of the family with that of the mansion’s earlier occupants, Alexander and his daughter Martha (Kani Kusruti). Vichitram, in its initial parts, does not give us much of a hint of the horror elements that it has in store for us. It slowly eases us into it, with some clever writing and with adequate use of the atmospherics, which are not spooky but melancholic and in sync with the kind of story that the film is trying to tell. In one of its side tracks, there is a beautiful portrayal of a homosexual relationship.


Direction: Achu Vijayan

Starring: Jolly Chirayath, Shine Tom Chacko, Kani Kusruti, Ketaki Narayan, Lal

The inevitable confrontation between the humans and the ghost results in a scene that could lead to a polarised response. If one is deeply engrossed in the happenings till that point, the confrontation, unlike any seen in horror films, fits in perfectly well. So does what follows after the confrontation. It is not often that one sees a person reacting to a ghost as if she is seeing a long lost friend or relative. But, for someone in a different frame of mind, the whole confrontation could look like a script gone horribly wrong. Unlike Bhoothakalam, the horror elements might not be as effective, because here we get too familiar with the ghost, thus losing the fear of the unseen.

Vichitram gives a clever twist to an overused horror trope for an effective portrayal of fraying and knitting together of familial relationships, and the lasting damage caused by curtailed freedoms.

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By Dipak

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