Anando Brahma movie review: Mahi V Raghav's film is delightful twist on the horror-comedy genre
Director: Mahi V Raghav
If you have seen enough Telugu horror comedies over the past five years or so, you know the drill by now. You know exactly what’s going to happen after a character, or a bunch of characters, end up staying in a spooky house and all hell breaks loose when a ghost comes along to torment them. But hey….this is a Telugu film and hence, we need a melodramatic flashback to justify the ghost’s presence and actions in the plot. Thus, we are introduced to a character, or a bunch of characters, who die a tragic death; however, the laws of Ghostland dictate that the spirit cannot have any emotional baggage before entering the gates of Paradise. As a result, the ghost or the evil spirit has to fulfill her — it’s almost always a female ghost — unfulfilled desire before the inevitable happy ending for other characters. The assembly chain of events is simple, and so far, the tried and tested formula has worked as long as the characters are funny and there’s a reasonable backstory.
This is precisely why Mahi V Raghav’s take on the genre, which has been done to death a lifetime ago, feels so delightful. In Anando Brahma, he turns the tables and makes humans more powerful than the ghosts, and that makes all the difference. Why should humans be afraid of ghosts, when they don’t even have a body? Why should 21 grams of soul, no matter how evil it is, be more scary than 70 kg of a human body? These ideas form the basis of Anando Brahma, written and directed by Mahi V Raghav. It’s been a while since someone looked at the comedy horror genre from a fresh perspective. No wonder, Anando Brahma comes across like a breath of fresh air, even if you aren’t completely convinced that it’s a spectacular film.
The film doesn’t revolve around Taapsee Pannu, although her character triggers a series of incidents and her presence brings more panache to the proceedings. The action in Anando Brahma is based on four characters, who are in desperate need of money for various reasons. Left with no other choice, all four of them, played by Srinivas Reddy, Vennela Kishore, Thagubothu Ramesh, Shakalaka Shankar, decide to spend few days in a haunted house. The rest of the story is about what happens when these four characters come face to face with the ghosts.
It would be a crime to reveal anything more than this because the whole point of the film is to watch how different characters behave when they come face to face with a ghost. The film belongs to two of its lead actors — Shakalaka Shankar and Vennela Kishore, who bring the roof down with their hilarious antics. Shakalaka Shankar, in particular, is exceptionally entertaining in the scenes where he imitates celebrities like Chiranjeevi, KA Paul, and even Baba Ramdev hasn’t been spared. Vennela Kishore, on the other hand, continues to be Mr Dependable as far as comedy is concerned. Srinivas Reddy and Thagubothu Ramesh play their roles to the T, and others like Rajeev Kanakala, Raja Ravindra and Tarzan are apt in their roles. Taapsee has a minor role and she does well.
The film’s second half is the soul of Anando Brahma and it’s here that the film reveals all its best written scenarios, dialogues, and even an emotional backstory which ties up everything. Mahi V Raghav leaves a solid impression that he understands comedy and also that there’s a lot more juice in this genre that hasn’t been tapped. Quite frankly, it’s relief that a horror film, despite being set within the confines of a haunted house, can still spring a surprise, and all that credit goes to Mahi V Raghav’s writing and a good ensemble cast.
Although it has a short run-time, it does take plenty of time in setting up the story and at some point, you begin to feel restless that you aren’t getting what you were promised through all those promos. The backstories of all the four lead characters are explained in detail to narrate why they had to come to live in that house, and scenes like these make it difficult to focus on the proceedings. Thankfully, the action shifts to the haunted house before its too late and it turns into a laugh riot from there onwards.
Anando Brahma has no frills attached to it and it’s pretty clear about what it wants to say, while avoiding several cliches associated with the genre. It reminded me of all those simple bed-time stories which we once heard from our grandparents, and Mahi V Raghav has brought that essence into the story-telling. It’s a simple film with a good dose of humour. Maybe the next time I go watch a horror film, I’ll end up smiling throughout its runtime or carry a flute along with me. Thank God, at least now, there’s one film which doesn’t suffer from horror-comedy fatigue.