Munjya Movie Review: Sincere creature feature turns into a shrieking contest

Abhay Verma, Sharvari star in a horror-comedy with an interesting premise but a lofty execution
Munjya Movie Review: Sincere creature feature turns into a shrieking contest
Munjya(2.5 / 5)

Munjya is the latest addition into the Maddock Supernatural Universe (MSU, if you may), a world which comprises of two witches (think Stree, Roohi) and a werewolf (Bhediya). Our desi version of the Addam’s Family gets another member in the mischievous, kid-ghost Munjya, a CGI-ed green goblin who took mannerism lessons from Gollum from the Lord of the Rings universe. I can’t help but imagine all these creatures coming together, superhero landing at a crucial juncture in another MSU film. But, for what will it be? To save or to scare?

Directed by: Aditya Sarpotdar

Cast: Abhay Verma, Sharvari, Sathyaraj, Mona Singh and Taranjot Singh

Helmed by Marathi director Aditya Sarpotdar (Zombivli, 2022) with story and screenplay by Yogesh Chandekar and Niren Bhatt, respectively, Munjya is set around an intriguing Konkani folklore. If a Brahmin boy dies within ten days after his thread ceremony, he turns into the titular monster, with only marriage on his mind. But don't be fooled, this is no pale-skinned youngling who offers a tennis ball from beneath the bed to the unsuspecting kid in a horror film. Think ghost version of a kid who starts dragging at his mother’s feet as they near a toy store. It screams, a lot.

After a trip to his hometown, one such Munjya starts piggy-back riding spectacled, fraidy cat Bittoo (Abhay Verma). After the sun goes down, the creature throws tantrums, and objects at our protagonist, impatiently urging him to find his ‘Munni’, a woman he was in a one-sided relationship with before he died. After a lot of scenes which involve Munjya trying to leap out of the screen, Bittoo and his sardar sidekick Spielberg Singh (Taranjot Singh) turn wedding planners for this randy, unruly child. Yes, ‘Munni badnaam’ does play.

A lot of Munjya is set in a village on the Konkan coast. It provides a fresh scenery and reminded me of the scenic setting of Tumbbad. Sadly, the similarities end here. Munjya’s interesting premise has a lofty execution, inundated with jump-scares that mostly fly by. There are too many repetitive, unimaginative scenes which involve characters either freaking out or screaming out of a room. The screenplay, at times, felt too random, too convenient. The jokes sometimes landed, and were other times too few and far between. It is something if you start giggling at the scares in a horror-comedy.

The film loses out on the novelty of its setup because it wants to fit into a tired template of the supernatural-comedy. At instances, scenes from Stree and Go Goa Gone play on TV screens in the film, hinting where Munjya wants to place itself. But unlike the aforementioned features, the film’s screenplay is wobbly. Abhay Verma in the lead, however, holds both the monster and the movie on his lanky shoulders. His performance is sincere and earnest. Sharvari, on the other hand, plays the quintessential love interest. Her character is paper thin and she ends up being either cutesy or gullible. Mona Singh gets the role of Bittoo’s loudmouth Punjabi mother, a character she can sleepwalk into. She still livens up the frame whenever she arrives. Tamil actor Sathyaraj is an amusing addition. He plays a toupe-wearing catholic ghostbuster, who touches the possessed with his ‘hand of god’, purifying them as they shake like live wires. He had me at Hallelujah.

Performances shoulder the slogging storyline of Munjya which does shake up in the second half. It involves a lot of running, shrieking, possessions and counter-possessions. A long-drawn but witty climax is offered but it runs out of steam soon because the makers keep on flogging a dead horse (or goat in this scenario). A good storyteller knows how to set up, but more than that, he knows when to end.

Cinema Express