RATSASAN (2018)

  • Release Date: 05/12/2018
  • Cast: Vishnu Vishal, Amala Paul, Ramdoss, Saravanan
  • Director: Ram Kumar

Arun (Vishnu Vishal) wants to become a film director. He is passionate about his first project which is supposed to be a thriller about a psychotic serial killer. He has done his share of research on the subject and most of it adorns the walls of his room. Arun, like so many others, is unable to find a producer for his project. He gives it his everything but is unable to bring his dream to the big screen. Distraught, frustrated and lost, he decides to join the police force instead.

His brother-in-law helps him get the job and once on duty he gets further frustrated when he comes face-to-face with the bare realities of how the police force works and the people that it has to work against. That, however, is nothing compared to what he had to endure when he faces off against a serial killer who is more convoluted and gruesome than what he had in mind for his passion project. Soon he finds himself in a game of cat and mouse against a man who is faceless, shapeless and no one seems to have a clue about his existence.

Ratsasan is the kind of thriller that will give you a heart attack with its story, treatment, thrills and the manner in which the film unfolds. It gets to the point real quick but doesn’t forget to establish the primary players to an extent that the audience actually cares for them. Once that is achieved, the suspense and the thrills take over. There are innumerable sequences in the film in which I nearly had my heart in my mouth. None of these scenes are created in a cheap and flimsy manner but executed subtly and with a lot of attention to pacing, editing and how best to extract tension and thrills. The director knows how and when to show “what” and “how much” and the whole film is in many ways a testimony to that.

The performances in the film are stupendous. Vishnu Vishal was not a known name to me but he blew me away with an exceptionally believable and haunting act. There is so much tension in the film that you feel primarily because you like the character of Arun so much and are heartbroken to see him go through such agony. I loved how his character brings in the knowledge that he had accumulated during his research for his first film and how it helps him in every step as he matches his wits with a man who is as dangerous as he is intelligent. His whole act feels not only real but also very to-the-point.

Saravanan plays the antagonist and he doesn’t even make an appearance till two-thirds of the film is over. Even under a thick layer of makeup and prosthetics, he makes a sound impact with his mannerism, style, and cruelty. Amala Paul has a role that starts off as significant but somehow is sidetracked as the story progresses. However, it cannot be ignored that her presence leads to atleast two scintillatingly thrilling sequences which I totally loved. Ramdoss as Arun’s brother-in-law is warm. His character has one of the most heartbreaking arcs in the whole film and the sequence where he breaks down after a personal tragedy is beautifully executed.

Ratsasan wouldn’t be the same without the background score and editing. I have to mention these two stellar traits of the film as it contributes so much into enhancing the overall thrill and impact of the film. From the very first scene where the first victim’s body is discovered and how it is shown using the background score, slow-motion movements with the dogs howling is creepy. A similar feeling is extracted in the sequence where a girl is kidnapped and her dog arrives at her home with a gift box tied to its collar signifying the kidnapping.

Speaking of the editing, one of the best examples of how best to edit for thrills is shown in a  sequence where Arun and his team try to reach a school in time to nab a culprit who, in the meantime, is about to abuse a minor. The reason why this scene gets so tense is because of the manner in which it is cut. The sequence intercuts between Aruna and team driving through the city and the culprit inching closer to the helpless girl.

We have been given an idea about the lecherous history of the culprit before as we saw him devouring another helpless girl. Thus our anxiety is compounded. The background score is again terrific here. Towards the end of the film, there is another sequence wherein we believe that Arun will finally nab the killer but the sequence goes quite differently. He is shown tailing a girl who he believes will be the killer’s next victim and the whole portion leading up to the culmination of this sequence will leave you exasperated.

My only issues with the film were with the prosthetics and makeup of the antagonists. Even though the antagonist as a minor looked sufficiently creepy, the rendition of the mother just didn’t cut it for me. Not for a second, you take the character to be a woman and that really hampers the believability of an otherwise flawless film. I found it extremely difficult to fathom the fact that the people in the film accepted the mother without any raised eyebrows or curiosity.

Ratsasan is an exceptionally well-made film that can be enjoyed multiple times. That goes beyond saying is a trait that most whodunit thrillers don’t have. Once the perpetrator is revealed the interest in the film’s narrative is gone. However, in Ratsasan the craft is so alluring and well done that the film can be enjoyed a couple of times just to sink in all that is the very best in the film in terms of technicalities. Terrific performances, superb techniques, haunting background score, and an ever gripping narrative make Ratsasan one of the best thrillers to have come out this year. Somehow I feel that it might just be the best thriller to have come out this year in India.

Rating: 4.5/5 (4.5 out of 5 Stars)

 

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