Santhoshathil Kalavaram review: A sad, chaotic mess
Using a bigger canvas, Kranthi has packaged a barrage of positive messages, with mostly abysmal levels of success, into a 132-minute long supernatural film
Santhoshathil Kalavaram's director Kranthi Prasad apparently won an award from an organisation in Bengaluru to celebrate his achievements in the field of social service, working for the upliftment of the youth, and disseminating positive messages. The debutant has packaged many of these messages into his 132-minute supernatural film, with mostly abysmal levels of success.
Director: Kranthi Prasad
Cast: Ravi Maria, Rahul C Kalyan, Niranth, Gouthami, Soujanya
The film begins with a group of friends — five guys and four girls — deciding to go to a forest guest house to celebrate the birthday of Vicky (Rahul C Kalyan). The presence of the supernatural is established very early in the film with Vicky frequently getting cryptic dreams about impending death.
However, this is set aside almost immediately as it is time for the first message. Vicky is under the influence of alcohol and Kranti modifies the usual disclaimer at the bottom of the screen to read: 'Alcohol destroys your life and home'. Message 1 delivered.
Then comes a song that talks about how nature is the best, cutting trees are wrong, the air and water in forests are pure... Messages 2-4 delivered.
Out of the nine leads, there are four couples and a model citizen named Venu — a 'good' guy who is into yoga, martial arts, nature walks, knows everything about forests, medicinal herbs, and is always meditating. He literally has no role to play in the first 80 minutes of the film. Not even a dialogue. All this even as the other eight friends are used to espouse messages like 'Don't insult the physically challenged' (even if he literally tried to date rape you a few scenes back), 'Be positive about professing your love, she might just say yes' (even if you literally tried to date rape her a few scenes back), 'He might have a tough exterior, but has a heart of gold' (even if... well you know...) However, cometh the hour, cometh the man, and Venu makes a re-entry when the ghost (played by Ravi Maria) reveals its intentions. Let me be honest here, despite all his redeeming qualities, his knowledge of survival techniques and ability to reason with the ghost by means of lengthy dialogues and exemplary levitating techniques, Venu is an insufferable know-it-all.
In a particularly testing scene in the second half of Santhoshathil Kalavaram, one of the leads falls dead due to exhaustion from trekking without food and water in the forest. While the friends all start crying, Venu snaps them back to la la land and asks them to sit around the dead person, hold each other's hands and play that childhood game of 'current pass', while chanting: 'She is alive'. Just like that, yellow waves of positivity run through their heads to form a sine wave of sorts. This energy is amplified when Venu looks strikingly at the moon, which sends a blue ray of light to his forehead, that then mixes with the sine wave to make the girl come alive with the sheer force of positivity. No, really.
The film's comedy works at times, especially the combination of Johnny (Rudra Aura) and Murugan (Jai Jagannadh) when they are not drinking or trying to molest their prospective lovers. There's also some effective comic relief in the form of the servant, Ramana (Alex). The women in the film, meanwhile, just have two pages of dialogue between the four of them. However, grace marks to the director for writing some sort of character arc for the women, and actually doing quite a bit right with the heroines.
The music by Sivanag tries too hard to infuse horror elements into this convoluted mess and sticks out like Venu in a fun-filled romantic number. The songs, though, are pleasant with Unnikrishnan, Chinmayi and Sathyaprakash lending their voices.
Basically, Santhoshathil Kalavaram is a Facebook post or a YouTube preach video masquerading as a supernatural, horror, romantic, survivalist thriller. The moments are there, the good intentions are there, but this unintentionally funny film, in the time of Whatsapp and Twitter, is like those hundreds of unread text messages archived in our phones — unfortunately, outdated.