Butterfly Movie Review: An invested Anupama Parameswaran can’t salvage this amateurish thriller
Extremely silly, amateurish narrative and making test your patience in Butterfly
It takes hardly two minutes to realise that Butterfly is a poorly made film, when we see the camera tracking towards a TV journalist who has to question a police officer about the murder of a kid at the crime spot. It’s a trivial scene we have seen play out a million times before. Here, the extras playing journalists take a two-second gap to allow the camera to move closer before they can start delivering their lines. One can clearly sense that it is poorly staged and acted. These are attributes that can be used to describe the entirety of Butterfly.
Cast: Anupama Parameswaran, Nihal Kodhaty, Bhumika Chawla, Rao Ramesh, Praveen
Directed by: Ghanta Satish Babu
Streaming On: Disney+Hotstar
The filmmaking oscillates between failing to complement the emotions of the characters and overdoing the cliches that evoke unintentional laughter. Take, for instance, a scene that’s supposed to produce tension: Two kids are missing and their anxious aunt, Geetha (Anupama Parameswaran) is having a difficult time searching for them all over their apartment complex. When she comes to her home searching we get a static, wide angle that shows Geetha from afar, undoing the character's crucial urgency and anxiety. Now, it might sound like nitpicking but no, the film makes you wish it got the basics right about staging. Perhaps using a handheld camera and close-ups would have helped the filmmaker pronounce the apprehension and uncertainty Geetha is experiencing. Such creative decisions create a wide gap between the viewer and the film. You never really care for the missing children nor do you empathise with Geetha who is having a terrible day. Countless intercuts to her difficult childhood add no value because the sentiments of the past have relevance in the present storyline and appear to be pompous attempts at melodrama. Excessive usage of music--often sentimental--makes you wonder if the film is trying to parody itself while actual, often ill-timed attempts at comedy involving the residents of the apartment where the film is predominantly set in end up being mirthless and impede whatever the minuscule attention you are trying to give to the film.
Butterfly is not a case of effective writing material losing its charm over the course of execution, it’s a painfully obvious script, to begin with. The very first conversation between Geetha and her elder sister Vyjayanti (Bhoomika Chawla) has the former calling the latter ‘amma’. The elder sister says something along the lines of, “I have told you many times to not call me amma, call me akka.” Geetha gives an auto-complete response; if you have seen enough films, you can complete her line. “I don’t have a mother, you are my mother.” I guess this explains why ‘cliche’ is one of the most-used words in movie reviews.
There’s also an attempt at layered storytelling—with parallels being drawn between the Virata Parva chapter of Mahabharatham. Observe an editing choice clearly when this mythology is being discussed and you see the ending in the first scene. This, perhaps, is the only idea that sounds interesting in the entire film.
Anupama Parameswaran is perhaps the only lifeline of the film, playing an exhausted, helpless woman thrown into an arduous situation. Understandable. She gets frustration and exhaustion on spot. They are also the emotions I experienced while watching this amateurish film.