Boomika movie review: Aishwarya Rajesh, director Rathindran R Prasad’s eco-horror feature is a tropey affair

All said and screamed, Boomika is a tepid film, which invokes neither fear nor feeling. We’re neither left with the satisfaction of being scared to our bone, nor do we leave purposefully towards being more sustainable.

Ranjani Krishnakumar August 23, 2021 14:09:26 IST

2/5

A haunted bungalow, a young family, a screaming woman, a nonchalant helper and capitalist greed — I don’t watch many horror films, but even for me, Boomika, Rathindran R Prasad’s latest is a tropey affair. It has everything you would expect in a horror film, religiously sticking to the beats, so much so that you can guess what’s going to happen next by the second.

Boomika is the story of a young couple, Samyuktha (Aishwarya Rajesh), Gautham (Vidhu), and their son Siddhu, who move to an abandoned school building with an intention to build a residential complex and make profits. Also joining them are globally renowned architect Gayathri (Surya Ganapathy), Gautham’s sister Aditi (Madhuri) and helper Dharman (Pavel Navageethan). As the sun sets, strange things begin to happen. Why they do and how the family gets out of there makes the rest of the film.

Boomika movie review Aishwarya Rajesh director Rathindran R Prasads ecohorror feature is a tropey affair

Aishwarya Rajesh. YouTube

Writer and director Rathindran R Prasad chooses a textbook approach to the ‘monster in the house’ genre. Much of the first act is filled with cliches like a phone that works without signal or battery, a ghost that can only be seen in a photograph, a woman who can’t stop screaming and so on. Prithvi Chandrashekar’s music only adds to the cliches. There is little by way of addition or surprise to these tropes that the film fails to evoke any sense of horror.

The dialogues here are also contrived, the writers bending over backwards to give the viewer all information. In the car journey from the airport Gayathri swears in surprise about the forests that surround the colonial property — “I strongly recommend we only work on the buildings and not touch the landscapes,” she says. Gautham on the other hand plans to do exactly the opposite. Will a renowned architect fly halfway across the globe without so much as knowing what the intent of the project is? Even if it’s for a close friend?

If execution of the genre elements is ineffective, the social themes sound confused. In her introduction, Samyukta, a counselling psychologist, reprimands a mother of a child with a psychological disorder. “Ungalukku than counselling kudukkanum,” (it’s you who needs counselling) she snaps, as if reminding us that it’s the neurotypicals who need to be educated about neurodiversity. 

But she doesn’t seem to apply this to her own life. Soon enough, she laments the lack of grandparents as a possible cause for her child’s disability. She implies that her parents are caste supremacists who wouldn’t accept her choices. Are such grandparents truly good for children? More worryingly, Gayathri suggests that money erases caste boundaries. “That’s why Gautham chose this project,” Samyuktha agrees. In what alternate universe is this true!

Boomika movie review Aishwarya Rajesh director Rathindran R Prasads ecohorror feature is a tropey affair

Aishwarya Rajesh in Boomika. YouTube

The film is supposed to make sense and come together once the flashback begins, but it gets preachy. It is narrated through a bunch of purposeful scenes with an awkward newspaper column voiceover. Boomika doesn’t like polyester. Boomika doesn’t like people moving her things around. Boomika’s canvas is unlimited. We don’t really understand Boomika as a person. She is simply a metaphor.

Which is perhaps why Prasad finds it important to tell the audience this through dialogue. “Don’t you understand who Bhoomika is? It’s the earth, you fools,” urges Dharman, a conveniently placed tribal man who advocates for nature. It doesn’t help that Pavel Navageethan delivers a caricature-like performance in the role. The film is so absorbed in its own message that it doesn’t even trust the viewer to understand the metaphors and references. 

That is not to say there aren’t interesting moments. There is a scene where Boomika goes to the tree with her father, who insists on her learning biology. He reads a passage about the explosion/implosion of life in the Paleozoic Era. It appears that Boomika isn’t listening at all, playing joyously with the colourful squirrels who put up a show for her. When asked to repeat, she does so word-for-word. Perhaps, the earth remembers. Prasanna Balachandran as Boomika’s father is excellent in these parts.

All said and screamed, Boomika is a tepid film, which invokes neither fear nor feeling. We’re neither left with the satisfaction of being scared to our bone, nor do we leave purposefully towards being more sustainable. Adding fuel to fire, Aishwarya Rajesh is thoroughly wasted too.

Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)

Boomika is streaming on Netflix. 

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