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Arundhati is haunting and thrilling

Radhika Rajamani | January 19, 2009 10:57 IST

A scene from Arundhati.

A tormented spirit which is all out to wreak havoc and vengeance is what director Kodi Ramakrishna's Telugu film Arundhati is all about. Arundhati may deal with an age-old theme defying logic but makes for a haunting and thrilling watch in parts if one doesn't mind the horror.

The tale, told in a series of flashbacks, is set in a zamindari -- the Gadwal samsthan in an early period. Arundhati, one of the young princesses, is trained in the fine arts and martial arts. Pasupathi (Sonu Sood) is a scoundrel and a womaniser, who is perpetually drunk. Arundhati's sister is married to Pasupathi (Sonu Sood). Arundhati sees him raping and killing her visually impaired dance teacher. She gets her men to beat Pasupathi up till he is brutally injured, tie him to a horse and throw him out of Gadwal. Arundhati grows up into a beautiful girl. She takes charge of the Samsthan and runs it well looking into the welfare of the people. People call her Jejamma after the deity of the village.

A few years later Pasupathi who incidentally (does not die) turns up in Gadwal. He was rescued by a group of Tantrics from whom he learnt Aghora Tantric practices. Armed with this knowledge, he returns to cause havoc on the day Arundhati gets married. He tries all his tricks to get close to her.

Arundhati fearlessly braves his attacks and finally through a dance (which is well choreographed and orchestrated) pins Pashupati to the ground. His hands and legs are tied, and when Arundhati is about to kill him, she is advised not to do so as he will turn into a spirit and trouble. So she gets a samadhi built around him and the necessary rituals done.

Cut to the present. Arundhati (Both played by Aushka), from the fourth generation is to marry Rahul (Deepak). A number of bizarre and eerie incidents take place. A fakir (Sayaji Shinde [Images]) warns her to get back. In fact the Samadhi is broken by one of the persons from the Samsthan and the spirit is unleashed into the open. Once free, it causes havoc. It's left to Arundhati to counter it. Will she?

The main plus points of the film are screenplay (creative director Rahul Nambiar and the Mallemalla Unit), art direction (Ashok), cinematography (Senthil Kumar), editing (Marthand K. Venkatesh), special effects and the performances of Anushka [Images], Sonu Sood and Sayaji Shinde.

There is enough fear and horror built into the film. The eerie scenes of the haunted house and the sound effects are effective to send shivers down one's spine. The special effects are also noteworthy.

On the minus side, there are some problems in the story. It's not clear whether the producer-director duo wanted to make just a horror film or bring the point of spirit versus rationality. There is also too much violence and horror.

This is totally Anushka's film. She is ideally suited for the double role of Arundhati -- purely author-backed and performance role. She is brilliant and breathtaking in parts. This will count as one of Anushka's best films in her filmography.

Sonu Sood has been able to create terror and fear on screen. His body language and expressions are simply superb. Sayaji Shinde enactment of the fakir role was also good. Deepak did not have much to do. Veteran artistes Manorama and Satyanarayana also put in seasoned performances.

The producer (Shyam Prasad Reddy) has spared no effort to get this 'semi-period' film right. He has been pretty lavish too to get the grandeur. Director Kodi Ramakrishna has done a good job.

On the whole, Arundhati is a watchable film provided you don't have a weak heart and don't get into discussing logic, science and rationality. Just watch what unfolds on the screen -- for that's visual grandeur!

Rediff Rating:

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