Onto the next release of the weekend and I decided to get off the mark this year as far as Gujarati films are concerned. And with that I finished watching the new Gujarati film Vash in a theatre near me. The kind of films that you associate with Gujarati cinema is more in the comedy space and family oriented, the ones that have been selling over the past many years. Rarely would you see a Gujarati film trying to dabble different genres and this may have to do with the Return of Investment that the films generate. If a formula in a film is working well in a film industry that might be fighting week after week to thrive, then there may not be room for experimentation.
That said, when I did come across the trailer of Vash, it did seem to be a genre bending film with a mix of psychological horror, a genre which is lesser tapped in Gujarati films. One look at the director Krishnadev Yagnik, the man behind films like Chhello Divas and Karsandas Pay and Use, and I knew that the film is in safe hands. Originally slated to release on 17th February, the last minute decision of preponing the release along with an A rated certificate, did not result in plenty of footfalls. But I was hopeful of the film being a different viewing experience. So then is Vash worth your time, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Vash follows the story of a daughter in a family who gets possessed by a strange man. Who is he and will the family be able to save her from the spell? The story here is interesting and its concept did seem to be straight out of a Hollywood film. And this can be termed as a genre breakthrough for Gujarati films in many ways. The screenplay standing at a shade less than 2 hours does make for a taut viewing experience which would keep you invested throughout.
The drama does open with a disclaimer that the drama is not for pregnant ladies and people with a heart disease, given the horror integrated in the film. This was a great marketing tactic for creating an illusion in the minds of the viewers of certain things to come. Soon, you are introduced to a family of four – the father, the mother and their two children who plan to visit their farmhouse for a vacation. Soon along the way, they are befriended by a stranger who would change their lives forever. First things first, you will not get a clear demarcation of the characters and their traits. This basically means that the characters do not carry any baggage and so you do not know what they are like outside the setting.
Having said that, the narrative style is similar to any horror thriller that you will see elsewhere. And this is a compliment, given the amount of tension which is slowly escalated through the drama. It may seem to be trivial to begin with but the chain of sequences will keep you invested and entertained throughout. I did think that the limitation of the setting would act as a deterrent for the drama. But how wrong was I! The focused narration never lets things drift and offers no respite to the viewers whatsoever. The bold and brave narrative coupled with an interesting set of twists and turns does formulate a path breaking drama for the Gujarati Film Industry!
There is a little more urgency in the second half after a fair bit of world building and establishing the context in the first hour. The events are thrilling and exciting and I was curious on how things would end. Another impressive aspect of the drama was its detailing(barring one loophole that I did spot related to mobile networks) and organic flow of it. The events leading up to the final act are twisted and gory and make for a compelling viewing. Do not go in expecting several jumpscares. This is more in the atmospheric zone with the ambience playing an important part along with the weather. The logical conclusion at the end did leave me quite satisfied in what was a very impressive outing for a Gujarati film.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are engaging and lazor sharp that make for an impactful viewing. There are no songs in the film which to the film’s credit never deviates from its escalating tensions. The BGM is good, the cinematography is fabulous as is the editing. Director Krishnadev Yagnik is someone known to be brave and bold with his film choices. And he delivers and path breaking film here which is in a way a landmark film in Gujarati cinema. The introduction of this ‘fresh’ genre can only be built upon from here, wherein the director does rise to the ocassion here!
The performances are excellent here by the ensemble cast. Niilam Paanchal as Bina is terrific to watch and she emotes brilliantly here. Hitu Kanodia as the father is outstanding and he maintains the intensity of his character till the very end. Hiten Kumaar as Pratap is a brilliant nemesis to Hitu here. He is a stark contrast to the character of the father, being more calm, calculative and collected while throwing in some spine chilling commands along the way. But the show belongs to Janki Bodiwala who as Arya delivers a performance of a lifetime. Her character had to act as a switch by flipping between being terrifying to sad to happy and smiling in a matter of seconds. And she is just so brilliant that she does take you on a roller coaster of emotions. Probably the best solo performance that I have witnessed in a while in a Gujarati film! Wishing to watch more of here going forward.
Vash is a landmark film in Gujarati Cinema that changes the ball-game with a spine chilling genre coupled with outstanding performances. Available in a theatre near you and Highly Recommended!