Kaya: The Mystery Unfolds movie review — an exercise in stagnation, this horror thriller induces humour rather than fear

Bhaskar Chattopadhyay

Apr 12, 2018 14:52:23 IST

1.5/5

In Kaya: The Mystery Unfolds, director Rajib Chowdhury takes the extremely relevant subject of sexual exploitation of women working in the film industry and attempts to make a horror thriller out of it. Unfortunately, while the issue deserves major attention and the premise must have  been  lucrative on paper, the execution is so childish that it literally becomes a pain to sit through this menace of a film that seems to have stuck on the same note like a broken LP record.

Kaya: The Mystery Unfolds movie review — an exercise in stagnation, this horror thriller induces humour rather than fear

A still from Kaya: The Mystery Unfolds

Led by a National Award-winning director named Ranjan Mitra (played by Koushik Sen), a film crew comes on a recce to a secluded hilltop bungalow in the misty mountains of Meghalaya. Within the crew are the cinematographer, the production manager, the chief AD, the second AD and a young starlet – all of whom harbour mixed feelings towards the captain of the ship – who is a compulsive womanizer, unabashedly switching from one woman to another night after night.

As the mist rolls in, and a thin veil of white seems to engulf the surroundings of the bungalow, the crew begins to experience supernatural phenomena, complete with a creaking swing within the compound that becomes so irritating after some time that one wonders why no one bothers to get some oil and lubricate the rusty hinges, for heaven’s sake. But – as things turn out – no one does, and that is the point of the film which is an exercise in stagnation. No one really does anything. Ever. Not when the vehicle that was supposed to be their connection with the rest of the world vanishes without a trace. Not when they encounter a mysterious apparition. Not even when, one after the other, members of the crew begin to disappear. They just sit there, doing nothing. Oh, hang on, that is not entirely correct. Because the filmmaker continues to sleep with the female members of his crew – one every night.

Yes, it is that cringeworthy. By the time the ‘apparition’ finally manifests itself, the entire situation becomes so ridiculous and illogical that it induces humour rather than fear. By now, no one cares about the dark past of the filmmaker or feels sorry for the victims of the exploitation – largely because their feeble little argument about being forced to sleep with men because ‘a girl’s got to eat’ seems hollow to the core. And despite having been spotted from miles away, when the final twist arrives, one literally wishes that the entire crew were dead so that the farce could come to an end and we could all go home.

The single most apathetic feature of the film is its shocking lack of empathy for the victims of sexual abuse at workplace. Which is all the more surprising because that is the central premise of the film and its very foundation. This lack of sensitivity is so brazen that it almost feels like some of the victims are enjoying being exploited by a clearly covetous man. It is almost impossible to feel for them once that realisation sets in, and that is the cusp at which the film loses its grip on its audience.

Another major problem area for the film is its pace. Repetitive to a fault, the script moves along at a snail’s pace with the same incidents happening over and over again, night after night. The film could have very well been cut down by at least twenty minutes, and no one would have missed them.

As far as the acting is concerned, the fact that a fine actor like Koushik Sen is simply rendered a caricature, not knowing what to do, and vividly struggling to extend his scenes at the behest of his director, is evidence enough of the quality of the script. Raima Sen ‘appears’ in very few scenes and does her best to salvage whatever she can but gets absolutely no support from her co-stars. The rest of the cast is strictly forgettable.

The only saving grace of the film are some of the drone shots of a lovely Meghalaya, which make one wonder why more films are not shot in such breathtakingly beautiful and yet vastly underrated locales. But much to the chagrin of us viewers, such shots are far too few to make any sensible impact or from saving the film from being the absolute dud that it is.

Updated Date: Apr 12, 2018 14:52:23 IST