Ashwin Saravanan’s gripping idea hits you in surprise and amazement in climax, but suffers on screen due to incompetent direction through major portion
Game Over is ‘presented by’ Anurag Kashyap. This name isn’t anything that you can ignore. Yet again, he lives up to his name. Having said that, it’s a film that belongs to Saravanan- his vision, and his guts to pull something off so ambitious yet relatable. With the basic premise reminding you of RGV’s Kaun?, this one takes several steps ahead from that 1999 flick (written by Kashyap). Also, you might find yourself seeing few references from Radhika Apte’s Phobia, but this one is indeed very novel. But having said all, IT’S A VERY DIFFERENT FILM. While you’ll remain off through its major part, the moment the dots are connected, you’ll see meaning to everything.
A video game developer Swapna (Tapsee Pannu) suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and lives in a big house with her house help Kalamma (Vinodhini Vaidyanathan). Her life takes a twist when a sadistic killer is at large and she must save herself from the claws of brutal murderers.
Saravanan and Kaavya Ramkumar have thought of a very interesting story of intrigue and internal fear that drives a simple human being to behave in a particular manner. A psychological thriller of sorts, it talks about one’s inner apprehensions about something, especially when you are helpless and start assuming things that are possibly unlikely to happen.
The fact that the entire story is inter-mingled with a video game (literally) and how fast or deadly things get in some of them, the film has a flair of its own. The makers have played with the idea of parallel narratives mixing reality with virtual world, that too making the film a game, which is quite thoughtful. But to be able to comprehend it, the makers require you to get into a zone (symbolic and allegorical), which is too much to ask for here.
In a way, the screenplay is developed in a manner that Saravanan has made the audience- all of them players of a video game where Swapna is a character in the game which they are controlling. It’s a twisted tale where instead of drama moving swiftly, it gets redundant alienating you from the connect.
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Inherent qualities of a game- a protagonist, conflicts, hurdles, a potential villain, and a destination to claim the reward- are all woven intricately into the screenplay. Even the paranormal and spiritual angle is played well.
The film works at two levels here. Flat first half but a magnificently amazing climax will also divide the audience into two. While you can’t understand what is being shown initially, the last 20 mins of the film will bowl you over. As for the loopholes, it falls back in the direction. The execution and translating the idea of screen needed to be done intelligently, especially where you feel bored. It is also here that you wish the film was directed by Kashyap himself.
Even at just 100 mins, the film seems too long only because of lethargic first half, a huge letdown. At one point, the dot connecting process seems forced and clearly the director seems to be building up and up and up just to reach the climax. But yes, every penny spent is worth in the climax. One of the best by a thriller.
Tapsee Pannu is a sure shot winner. She’s proven how genius of an actor she is. This time, she does it all on a wheelchair with restricted body language. If not for anything else, the film can be watched only for her. She lifts the film to a great deal where even some of the minuses are ignored. She makes sure you are thoroughly interested, also confused, and above all entertained in her quest to win the game (virtual and real both). She’s a charmer and if not for someone like her, the approach of the film would rather be lesser.
Vinodhini Vaidyanathan is also supremely good lending able support to the lead actor. She has beautifully written role and she never leaves any stone upturned to captivate you.
Music by Ron Ethan Yohan consisting mainly of background score is extremely powerful. Never going too overboard, it’s a perfect blend of what should make a thrilling masterpiece. The sound effects also incorporate a lot of machine sound typically played during video games, and the makers have used them all to good advantage, making the appeal of the drama many folds more.
A Vasanth’s camera is splendid and achieves great definition in terms of audience connect. A lot of the times since there is only one person on screen (or in the room as shown in the film), smart camera takes you well through places and electrifies you at various situations. Production design by Siva Shankar has to be specially mentioned for its extraordinary approach. Even in confined places, you have something new to absorb in almost every scene.
Editing by Richard Kevin is fantastic especially during the climax sequence. It’s a piece so well edited that a lot of impact is achieved not through writing or direction or camera, but only through cuts and transitions on editing table. It had space to improve in the beginning definitely.
Rarely does Bollywood offer a good thriller. Tapsee Pannu in Badla is still fresh in audience’s minds. In a film that had tremendous potential of being a dark and metaphorical thriller, the importance of a good captain is badly craved. There are points where your hearts throb and you panic too just like the character, with some moments intelligently shown. The climax is superlative but the build up (however logical it may seem after the film) needed to be mightier.