Live Telecast Series Review: A horror series without any redeeming elements
Venkat Prabhu’s horror series has an interesting idea, but that’s all you can say about it
Venkat Prabhu’s Live Telecast has an interesting idea that reminds you of films like Ghostbusters, Paranormal Activity, The Conjuring... I could go on. The thing about horror films now is that all the stories seem to have been already told. Now, it’s about ‘possessing’ the qualities that define the good films in the genre, but Live Telecast seems more like a collection of moments from the average ones.
Director: Venkat Prabhu
Cast: Kajal Aggarwal, Vaibhav, Anandhi, Daniel Annie Pope
Streaming on: Hotstar
Notice how horror films usually have that one character who’s seen the ghost but is never believed? Venkat Prabhu’s Live Telecast attempts to provide the satisfaction of seeing such a person believed, with the events of this series. Jennifer (Kajal Aggarwal), the heroine, runs a ghost-hunting TV show called Dark Tales. Due to an unfortunate episode—a seeming rip-off of the Elisabeth Shue scene from Hollow Man (2000)—Dark Tales gets taken off-air. As a last resort, she suggests the idea for a new show: a live ghost-hunting episode at a haunted house. When the crew begins to shoot the live episode, well, you know what happens.
The problems begin right at the very beginning. More than half an episode is spent with tedious introductions, with the characters introducing themselves on camera. Romance and interpersonal equations come into play from the second episode. By the third episode, you begin to entertain thoughts that there may just be substance in this show. Kajal Aggarwal, who seems quite plastic playing Jennifer, begins to show promise as she settles down into the character. You see, Jennifer will go to any extent to make sure the show gets high rating points, and it’s quite interesting to see a protagonist not be burdened with moral responsibility.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this series concerns all the jabs at the sensationalism in mainstream media. Venkat covers many topics including TRP wars, journalistic insensitivity, the lack of social responsibility, and more. The humour too picks up, and much credit to the characters of Aravind (Daniel Annie Pope) and Sekar (Vaibhav), who pitch in with noteworthy performances.
Just as things start to look up, episode five offers proof that Venkat Prabhu has run out of steam. The final three episodes could well be condensed into two.
A cop suddenly steps in, with another bad introduction scene. There’s also a lot of negligence shown to detail. The CCTV footage, for instance, does not seem to have been shot by stationary cameras. Such shots kill your suspension of disbelief.
There’s an attempt at a late surge when Sekar (Vaibhav) gets pushed to the front to save the day. But it’s all too predictable and the final twist becomes a damp squib too. More frustration arrives in the form of a dull back story for the ghost. While it’s admirable that Venkat is sensitive about a mental health issue, the same cannot be said of the writing of this story.
Barring the theme music, Premgi’s music doesn’t really help matters either. The look and feel of the whole show is that of a television serial. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is how the show, coming from someone as accomplished in humour writing as Venkat Prabhu, fails to evoke even smiles. Live Telecast is testimony that it’s easy to come up with an interesting one-liner. To make it an engaging story, however…