If the makers of Chathuram had also made the movie pacy, it would have been much more rewarding. Right now, it takes far too much time to get over the predictable portions to better bits of the film.
Story: Selena is in for a rude shock the very first day she steps into her husband Eldho's home. A chauvinist and abuser, he beats her to the pulp at the drop of a dime. Her chance for revenge comes when Eldho after an accident is bedridden, leaving her to take care of his ancestral properties. This also leads to the hiring home nurse Balathazar, who is smitten by Selena. Over time, the two form a relationship - one driven by lust and the other by a darker motive.
Review: Director Siddharth Bharathan's latest venture Chathuram once again has him zooming in on the dynamics of relationships. Like its title that translates to chess, the film, scripted by Sidharth and Vinoy Thomas, is a game of strategy. The pivotal chess pieces here are Selena, a young and beautiful woman, Eldho, her chauvinist husband who is much older than her, and Balathazar, a home nurse who is smitten by Selena. Each has their own motive in the story with Eldho being the most passive due to him being bedridden, but then the games get played around him by the other two - one of them driven by lust and the other by a much darker intention. How it all comes together and who emerges victorious at the end is the plot of Chathuram in a nutshell.
Sidharth, however, is in no hurry to tell this tale. He lets the story unfold piece by pieces, as a slow-burner. While it does hamper the viewing experience, the pace helps the actors really dig into their characters - with both Roshan as Balathazar and Swasika as Selena, bringing their A-game. The duo's performances are also the highlights of the movie, where you can guess what the ultimate motive is but not how it plays out. However, if the makers had also made the movie pacy, it would have been much more rewarding. Right now, it takes far too much time to get over the predictable portions to better bits of the film. Some crisp editing could have aided the viewing experience.
Swasika plays Selena convincingly, showing the character's seductive side while also ensuring there is a mysterious aura about her. The makers must also be lauded for letting its female protagonist weave the web of strategy. In fact, Swasika's character utters a line in the end that defines relationships between men and women in a way, "You would be happier if you would just accept I am smarter."
Rosshan as Balathazar is absolute fun to watch - with him bursting with warmth and energy and then descending into guilt and regret once he gets trapped in a game that he refuses to play but is forced to - almost like a prey caught in the black widow's web. Alencier, who had played a chauvinist, bed-ridden husband in Appan recently, plays his role well, evoking hatred at ease. The arc of Santhy Balachandran's character was also a nice touch - as it accentuates the kind of life Balathazar could have led.
The intimate scenes in the film are aesthetically shot by Pradeesh Varma and Prashanth Pillai's music feels non-intrusive to the proceedings.
Verdict: Chathuram boasts strong performances from Roshan Mathew and Swasika, but the drama-thriller end up being too long and uneven at 2 hours and 27 minutes.