One of the fondest memories of my childhood was playing a game Antakshari with friends probably on a road trip. And so when a Malayalam film Antakshari was announced, I was under the assumption that it will be a nice little ride down nostalgia. But seldom did I think that it would take that concept of Antakshari and put it in a serial killer genre. Many of you would know this by now but for those who don’t, the serial killer genre is my all time favourite genre and almost my staple diet as far as films are concerned. And to top it, it is Malayalam Cinema at the helm of it. And I did expect nothing short of a volcano. So then does Antakshari manage to set your pulse racing, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Antakshari is a story of a cop and a serial killer on the loose with the game of Antakshari tactfully integrated in it. The story is fascinating although it may not seem to be very novel from the description. The screenplay begins on a terrific note where a certain incident takes place in the starting few minutes itself. Thereafter, the screenplay seems to be scattered where the writers seem to take the audience on a wild goose chase. This might be a put off for many considering that there are multiple subplots which are told parallely. The focus is deliberately missing in the narrative with some terrifying sequences thrown in the mix every now and then. While the investigation kicks in late in the first half, the quirky humour is quite evident. It is almost impossible to guess the killer or his motive considering the multiple twists and turns.
The final half hour picks up pace leading up to a final act which was presented in an excellent manner. The final scene leaves you with many questions than answers. Also, not all subplots are tied together at the end which made me curious as to why they had picked on them initially. While I was reading about it, I came across an article wherein Vipin Das the director had said that the original film was 3.5 hours long. Hence, he had released only 2 hours of it and the remaining 1.5 hours he planned to release it as 6 short episodes. This made me even curious as to how the things will be tied together especially after the revelation. Interesting times ahead!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are cerebral and rather conversational for most parts which create an ambience of intrigue. The music and the BGM are definitely plusses and they add to the mood of the film. The cinematography is excellent and it is terrifyingly brilliant in a few scenes which will send a shiver down your spine. Director Vipin Das has done a terrific job. I really enjoyed the scattered storytelling technique by which he prompted the audience to go on a wild goose chase. Something really different to the otherwise standard genre which means some brownie points to the direction.
The performances are outstanding here. Notice the names of the characters here – they ate all named after singers. Vijay Babu as Vasudevan is pretty good. Binu Pappu as shines in the role of the cop Jayachandran. Priyanka Nair as Chitra is quite brilliant. Ishita Singh as Nayana is phenomenal and I can’t wait to know how she would contribute in the next chapter. Likewise for Sandeep Pradeep who had an interesting character and is first rate. Sudhi Koppa as Srinivas is earnest and sincere. Casting Saiju Kurup in the role of a cop was an interesting movie and boy was he good! As Das, he is absolutely brilliant right from his appearance to his mannerisms, he is outstanding. This is perhaps his career’s best performance so far!
Antakshari is a serial killer film for the ages that will potentially be discussed repeatedly in times to come.<span;> Available on SonyLiv and Highly Recommended!