The standout factor about the supernatural elements in Vichithram, starring Shine Tom Chacko, Kani Kusruti and Balu Varghese, is that the team has tried to subvert the usual stereotypes as if to empathise with the 'ghosts' in the film
Last Updated: 05.22 AM, Oct 15, 2022
Story: Life has been tough for Jasmine and her five sons ever since her husband passed away. However, after the death of her estranged brother, they take up the offer to live in his house - the same place she had to leave to marry her husband. The elder sons accept the offer, eyeing their selfish interests. But more than opportunities, the house holds secrets and ghosts from the past that would have a bearing on the broken family too.
Review: Malayalam cinema, of late, has found a way of breaking down the relationships of fractured and dysfunctional families and presenting them as riveting stories. Be it Kumbalangi Nights or Joji, the movies essentially revolved around families and how the problems eventually seep in to corrode these relationships or strengthen them. In debutant Achu Vijayan's Vichithram, the film touches both these themes through the two families in focus and against the backdrop of a house that is believed to be haunted.
Much like recent films such as Veyil and Bhoothakaalam, the movie takes its own time to explore the dynamics between each member of the family that consists of the matriarch Jasmine (Jolly Chirayath) and her five sons. While Jackson (Shine Tom Chacko) is the one out to make quickly money, Joy (Balu Varghese) is the indolent brother and Justin is the responsible one, who follows his mother's dream to see them become like their father. The twins - Savio and Stefan - lend the innocence to the group that is almost always quarrelling when they are together. As the movie evolves, you would understand why scriptwriter Nikhil Ravindran took his time to tell the story; in fact towards the end you would even know which rooms lead to where in a huge mansion that the family chooses to reside.
The standout factor about the supernatural elements in the film is that the team has tried to subvert the usual stereotypes - be it the jumpscares or tropes - as if to empathise with the 'ghosts' in the film. Some of the best sequences come towards the riveting end of the film - be it when Joy decides to sleep beside his mother, Jackson asks for her forgiveness or when Jasmine 'sees' Martha. The impact of these scenes are heightened due to the details that the team has packed, leading up to them.
But that's not to say it's entirely a gripping watch. The first half will test the audience as this is more of a slow-burn family drama that shows the struggles this family has to endure. While the sons have their own arcs, it's Jasmine's story that holds the movie together and Jolly Chirayath is brilliant in the role. A particular sequence where she snaps a photo after her son returns with her late husband's motorcycle, speaks volumes about the kind of relationship she had with her husband Paul and what the life with him and his death meant to her.
Shine Tom Chacko is once again in his element, essaying Jackson who gets to go through an array of emotions as he falls prey to temptation. Balu Varghese lends the humour to the film, which also has James Eliya in a powerful role. The artistes who played the other three brothers, especially Justin, also stand out. Lal, Ketaki Narayan and Kani Kusruti also play their parts well in this film, where the sound and art department gets brownie points for creating an atmosphere that isn't quite malevolent but still has the vibe of a horror movie.
Verdict: If you are a fan of slow-burn dramas about dysfunctional families, then the details and performances in Vichithram make it a good watch.