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June 01 2020
‘Praana’ review: A thin plot pulled off well
21 January 2019

The single-character horror movie has more to it than meets the eye

You could make a horror film, just for the horror part of it, or make one as a metaphor for something else. Filmmaker V.K. Prakash does the latter with Praana, which comes loaded with quite a few novelties. For one, there is just a single character in the entire movie, except a few blurred or background shots of crowds.

Praana
  • Starring: Nithya Menen
  • Direction:V.K. Prakash

Tara Anuradha (Nithya Menen) is under attack from the intolerant elements in society after the publication of her latest book Music of Freedom. Fed up with the wave of hatred coming her way for expressing her thoughts, she is yearning for a break, away from all the noise. A television feature on a haunted house in the hills attracts her attention during this time. Not one to be scared away, she chooses the house as the perfect place for her to take a break.

For V.K. Prakash, each movie is an experiment. Some of it has worked, while quite a handful have faltered spectacularly. In Praana though, despite the thin plot and just the one actor to depend upon, he manages to hold your interest for much of the two hour run-time, losing his grip somewhat only towards the end.

Splendid act

The ambiguity that he maintains to an extent, on whether the things you see on the screen has happened for real or in Tara’s mind, is the key here. Fear is generated from the most mundane of things, like a misplaced doll or toys that mysteriously stop working to hyper creepy images like that of a chair being drawn back by invisible hands across a corridor. He does resort to the typical horror movie tricks at some points to make people jump from their seats. Nithya Menen carries off the role admirably well, although the few lines that she gets to say seem a bit artificial.

Often, the movie makes one question whether the imagined horrors of the haunted house are as scary as the real horrors that can visit upon the writer, thanks to the intolerant mob waiting for her outside. That real point of the movie seems to be a response to the many contemporary events of writers and intellectuals feeling the coldness of the pistol on the back of their neck. But the way the filmmaker chose to end the story leaves much to be desired, considering how it can be negatively interpreted.

 

 

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