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Butterfly review: Anupama Parameswaran packs a punch in this engaging, emotional thriller

Ghanta Satish Babu’s debut directorial offers a grim picture of the world in the garb of a thriller

3/5rating
Butterfly review: Anupama Parameswaran packs a punch in this engaging, emotional thriller
Butterfly
  • Srivathsan Nadadhur

Last Updated: 04.08 AM, Dec 29, 2022

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Story:

Geetha is a small-time employee in a company, who leads a happy life with her sister Vyjayanthi and her children. Vyjayanthi, a lawyer by profession, needs to leave for Delhi for work and leaves her kids with Geetha. While Geetha leaves for a parent-teacher’s meeting in their school, the kids suddenly go missing. The demands from the kidnappers only get worse with every call. Who’s behind this? To what extent will Geetha go to rescue them? Is Geetha’s life in danger as well?

Review:

There’s so much one could offer to the viewer within the thriller format beyond the basics - thrills, urgency and the tension in the storytelling. When done well, thrillers provide you a brutally honest picture of the world, our interpersonal relationships and mental makeup. Butterfly is a fine example of a thriller that doesn’t merely keep us engaged and goes a step further to paint a grim portrait of the world around us. When told through the eyes of a woman, the effect is all the more pronounced.

Butterfly is a tad leisurely to take off; the filmmaker isn’t merely chasing tension. Ghanta Satish Babu buys enough time to build the world around Geetha, her sister Vyjayanthi and the conflict. The film is all about Geetha’s (rather lonely) fight to rescue her niece and nephew. Within her quest, the filmmaker goes back and forth between her past and the present and puts together various pieces of her world together. The setup is basic but Butterfly delivers the goods.

The director wants us to believe that the story, beyond the kidnapping of the kids, is about a woman’s lonely fight in the world. While the story is about Geetha, it’s also about the journey of two sisters and how Geetha grabs a leaf out of her sister’s book and finds strength within her. Geetha and Vyjayanthi, as abandoned children themselves, go through a lot to attain a position of respect in the society and are introduced as strong, resilient women who could brave any crisis.

As a whodunit, Butterfly may not outsmart you and a thriller junkie is likely to unlock the puzzle quickly. Yet, the film works because of its emotional undercurrent and the genuine effort to tell a story minus any gimmicks. Butterfly, on a deeper level, elaborates on how the world thrives on exploitation - sexually, monetarily and emotionally. Geetha’s outburst by the end of the film is quite justified, she realises there’s nothing romantic about being ‘nice to everyone.’

Even though Geetha has a romantic interest Viswa, he only lends a helping hand and doesn’t snatch the victory from her. The repetitive use of Chitra’s song on motherhood, to emphasise on Geetha and Vyjayanthi’s bond, doesn’t help in the screenplay. On a certain level, Butterfly ends conveniently and leaves a few aspects to a viewer’s imagination. The happy ending, after all, is well deserved. The use of the butterfly on a metaphorical level is intriguing too.

Decent plot , good storytelling, solid performances - Butterfly has it all. While there was no doubt about Anupama Parameswaran’s potential all along, she deserved a film like Butterfly that solely rides on her shoulders. As a partly vulnerably, mostly resilient woman, Anupama sinks her teeth into a well-written part. Nihal Kodhaty chips in with an equally credible performance in a meaty role while heavyweights like Rao Ramesh, Bhumika Chawla deliver what’s expected of them.

Praveen, Racha Ravi, Prabhu, Rajitha, Vennela Ramarao and the other supporting actors do the needful too. Cinematographer Sameer Reddy yet again proves that you don’t need a huge budget to be smart and imaginative with your work and he is a strong backbone behind the film’s technical appeal. Arviz’s songs, Gideon Katta’s background score and Madhu’s editing finesse help the story progress seamlessly. Dakshin Srinivas’ dialogues are precise and effective. The tribute to womanhood with the 'All the ladies' number during the end credits is the icing on the cake.

This is a good directorial debut for Ghanta Satish Babu. He knows his craft well, understands the needs of the story and doesn’t make a lot of fuss while telling it.

Verdict:

Butterfly is an emotional, engaging thriller headlined by a capable, in-form Anupama Parameswaran, well aided by her actor counterparts Nihal Kodhaty, Racha Ravi, Bhumika Chawla, Rao Ramesh and a terrific technical crew. Ghanta Satish Babu makes an assured debut as a director. The journey of this caterpillar turning into a butterfly is worthy of your time.

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