Ram Gopal Varma is a name that evokes admiration and dread in equal measures. The admiration can be attributed to his earlier films (Shiva, Rangeela, Satya to name a few) which largely changed the way movies were made in India. The dread can be attributed to his recent works which have mostly caused grief to the audiences (RGV ki Aag, Department, Agyaat to name a few) mainly due to the technical indulgences employed by him in the name of filmmaking. Once in a while we would see flashes of his glorious old self in films such as Rakta Charitra I, Attacks of 26/11 keeping alive the hope among his fans and audiences.
The promos of his latest Telugu film Anukshanam promised the return of the good old Ram Gopal Varma who vowed audiences earlier through his path breathing films. Alas what ultimately one gets to see are only glimpses of his former self.
Gautam (Vishnu Manchu) the ACP of Hyderabad is investigating a series of killings that take place in the city of Hyderabad. He is aided in this mission by Shailaja (Revathi) a behavioural analyst who is convinced that a serial killer is behind these sinister killings. How they manage to nab the killer forms the rest of the story.
On the brighter side, the film is technically proficient and thankfully devoid of a loud background score and the overindulgent camera work which has dominated the recent films of Ram Gopal Varma. In fact, the background score and the camera work adds good value to the film. The proceedings keeps you glued for a larger part of its duration creating a sense of anticipation as the reels unfold. The protagonist is thankfully devoid of the usual Tollywood heroism for a good amount of time. Varma has never shied from depicting gore and bloodshed in his films and Anukshanam is no exception. The killings are depicted with the right amount of gore creating an adequately tense and fearful atmosphere. Veteran actor Brahmanandam whose comic skills may seem unwanted in a film like this, has been adequately used in a few scenes helping to lighten up the generally tense atmosphere of the film.
Sadly the film stumbles terribly as it approaches its final act. Agreed it is a relatively short film (105 mins), but one fails to understand the need to rush and reach a hurried conclusion. As the body count starts increasing, it ceases to surprise and shock you like the earlier murders did. Rather than exploring the psyche of the killer and making the hunt for the killer more interesting, the film opts for a convenient and a hurried culmination. It also succumbs to the Tollywood heroism which it bravely resisted for a long time.
Newcomer Surya who plays the serial killer (no this is not a spoiler) is quite impressive and one hopes to see him in better roles hereafter. Had the audiences been given more time to understand his psyche, his motive behind the killings, had his character been given a proper culmination it would have made a bigger impact.
Anukshanam would definitely rank as one of the better films made by Ram Gopal Verma in recent times although it surely could have been much better. As a thriller, it is fairly engaging and had scope to be a far better film.
The film also clearly indicates that if Varma decides to forsake his indulgences he can still make a smashing return to form. What one sees however in films like these are only glimpses of his glorious past. Whether he will make that much awaited comeback is something only time will tell.