Gatham Movie Review: Outstanding suspense cinema that checks all boxes
This Amazon Prime release is a well-written piece of work with astonishing visuals and commendable performances, that raises the bar for the psychological suspense-thriller genre
Gatham starts off with a display card that reads, “Every human being has a bit of a psychopath in him. But only a few bring it out and you're safe as long as you maintain distance from them. Unless they knock on your door.” You wonder if the quote holds true from a psychological perspective. After all, the display of such cards hasn’t worked so well in the recent past.
It is with this scepticism that I started watching Gatham. But every other moment thereon, writer-director Kiran shattered my doubts and reminded me that we should never forget to expect the unexpected from art.
Cast: Rakesh Galebhe, Bhargava Poludasu, Poojitha Kuraparthi
Steaming on: Amazon Prime
Rishi (Rakesh Galebhe) wakes up in a hospital and is immediately informed by the doctor that he has met with an accident which wiped away his memories. The doctor introduces Adithi (Poojitha Kuraparthi) as Rishi’s girlfriend. Days later, Adithi drives Rishi to meet his father, but the car breaks down in the middle of a snowy forest. Arjun (Bhargava Poludasu) offers his help and asks the couple to rest in his shelter. Hell breaks loose when Arjun’s son, Harsha, enters the cabin and troubles the couple.
Though the starting is very familiar, when the screenplay starts feeding us information little-by-little – one ‘nightmare’ after another – suspense builds up organically. When the twist in the tale eventually unfolds, halfway through the movie, it makes us freeze, even though we were fed details of it right from the beginning – a prime suspense moment.
The premise, the conflict, as well the snowy topography in which this psycho-revenge thriller is set, might make you wonder if this is a Mumbai Police meets Wind River kind of a tale. But in retrospect, those resemblances remain just similarities and Gatham proves itself to be unique work in its own right.
When the non-linear narrative comes full circle and leaves us with only the third act to be dealt with, we understand the tricky positions that the characters find themselves in, and it gets even more exciting. It is here that we realise why Kiran chose to display that quote about psychopaths in the beginning.
Gatham has noteworthy performances from all the lead actors. However, debutant Bhargava Poludasu's performance easily steals the limelight. Initially, when he plays a villain who will shoot at you point-blank and immediately tell you where the first-aid kit is, he leaves you bewildered, yet spellbound. When his motives are finally revealed, it comes out in a brilliant way. Bhargava has brought out the extreme duality in his character quite distinctively, and yet it never looks like two different characters – credits also to the well-written character arc. At a time when we're used to seeing semi-flat characters written with an assumption that the high-adrenaline story will make up for it, watching a character like Arjun is particularly exciting.
Be it a diary that a father uses to document his son’s sins, or a deer mounted on the wall, the way debutant Kiran has woven those details into the story is impressive and commendable.
Yet, while the writing is undoubtedly good, it isn’t flawless. At one point, Bhargava’s character randomly starts narrating the story, in a film that had no narrator until then, and you're left wondering when he became the narrator and who he is recounting for.
Manojh Reddy’s cinematography merits a special mention. There’s a short car chase sequence in the end and the way it is shot is as good as any car chase I've ever seen. Manojh judiciously uses his drones, and the stunning lighting is refreshing, and in tandem with the colouring, really elevates the mood.
Though there are some visible errors with the patchwork and continuity in a few scenes, the cinematography and overall editing more than make up for this. Full credit to editor GS for making the sequences so crisp that we hardly see anything out of place in the mise en scene.
All credits go to the producers of Gatham for taking on a script like this and giving us a neat psychological suspense-thriller.