There is something about this uncut gem of a film that invites both our curiosity and admiration. It features only one main character Aashiq. And he is played with such casual naturalness by Karthik Ramakrishnan that it feels like an invasion of privacy for us to barge into his telephonic conversations with his estranged very angry wife, his little son adamant to hear a horror story before he goes to bed, and sundry friends and relatives with whom Aashiq converses as he drives his cab with a mysterious valuable package to be delivered on the other end of town asap.
We wouldn’t know until the end what the package contains. Neither would Aashiq. This bone-thin flab-free thriller builds an atmosphere of foreboding out of very little plot or drama.
It is simple,really. As Aashiq drives he gets a call from his sister who has gone to Bangaluru for a job interview. As he speaks to the girl she tells her brother she’s being followed by three apparently drunk men in a speeding car.Then her voice suddenly breaks and her phone goes off .
The idea of a loved one’s call terminating abruptly in the midst of imminent danger is chilling. Director Vishnu Narayana doesn’t play on the crisis. Rather he lets it grow and develop on its own volition. The rising tension is punctuated by the nervous anxious camera movements which remain mostly inside the car.What we feel is a sense of time running out as the crisis closes in on Aashiq.Just the phone to help locate his sister and that too snatched away from him.
At some points of the storytelling I could see the screenwriter struggling to provide material for the plot to move forward. The first 20 minutes or so are used to build up a sense of latent despair in Aashiq, as he seems to be grappling domestic and financial crises with lies and evasions.There is a subtle moral frown on the face of the narrative as Aashiq gets to know that his sister wore jeans to the interview without the family’s consent or knowledge. The inference drawn from this act of rebellion that Aashiq doesn’t vocalize is: a girl who wears jeans while travelling alone is likely to get into trouble.
The entire drama of the situation is drawn from what we hear Aashiq saying on the phone. His panic when his sister disappears is contagious. I just wanted to know that the girl was somehow safe. In this the film protagonist and the audience becomes one.And that’s the biggest achievement of this film with no hero, heroine, villain or melodrama.Just a helpless cabbie hoping his sister hadn’t come to harm. Not difficult to empathize with.
Image source: SpotboyE/youtube/GOODWILLENTERTAINMENTS/IMDb