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Kalyan Ram's 118 Review
If an acclaimed cinematographer like KV Guhan makes his directorial debut in Telugu (his second movie as a director), you can expect a reasonably well-made outing. He doesn’t disappoint. 118 is a crisp thriller, sans melodrama, dramatization, overly-emotional haranguing or long explanations, characteristics that plague paranormal thrillers made in Telugu. Guhan sidesteps these flaws and delivers a clean movie. It is flawed, and even clumsy at times, missing out on minute details and tighter script-writing, stopping it from being the breathtaking suspense thriller it could have been. Yet, it is an above average movie by the standards set by mystery thrillers in Telugu.
Starring: Kalyan Ram, Shalini Pandey, Nivetha Thomas, Hari Priya
Director: K V Guhan
Producer: Mahesh Koneru
Music: Shekar Chandra
Editor Bikkina Thimma Raju
Goutam(Kalyan Ram) a media journalist frequently gets a dream on a missing girl (Nivetha Tomas). In the process of tracing out the whereabouts the girl in his dream, He starts investigating about his dream and finds a lead along with some clues for his dream.
Goutam finds out that she is Aadya. The investigation is all about Aadhya (Nivetha Thomas) and her story. Who is Aadya? Is she really missing in the real world too? If so who are the culprits behind her missing story? How will Goutam solve the suspense puzzle in the story? To know this, you have to watch the film on the silver screen.
Kalyan Ram did a decent job as an investigative journalist. He looks lean and stylish in the role of Gowtham and needs some applause.
Nivetha Thomas as Aadhya is a revelation, bringing to life her character’s innocence, loving nature, bravery, stubbornness for justice and even guilt with consummate ease. She breezes through her role, stealing the show, especially in a particular scene that requires her to show heart-breaking grief.
Shalini Pandey’s chemistry with Kalyan Ram is truly off-the-charts, it’s a mystery why she exists in this tale. Her character, unfortunately, has nothing much to do other than romance the hero, deliver generic lines to egg him on this journey and tag along on his adventures. In a film that requires you to invest in its characters, hers just doesn’t invoke any emotion from you. It also doesn’t help that Shalini Pandey delivers a strictly okay performance.
Hari Teja as Aadya's friend and Prabhas Seenu as Kalyan’s colleague are good in their supportive roles.
Cinematographer turned director KV Guhan has come up with a good concept and interesting storyline but his narration lacks proper depth in it. Though the suspense factor is handled decently through the film, crucial investigative scenes are not written in a gripping manner. Dialogues in the film are outdated and will not at all excite the audience.
Coming to the lead artist's performances,
Shekhar Chandra has done a good job with the background score.
The production values look decent.
118 is likable because it uses even the character of its less-in-focus leading lady Medha (Shalini Pandey), Gautam’s fiancé, really deftly. Heroism takes a back seat and Kalyan Ram does a wonderful job as a journalist who trusts his ethics and instincts. The climax is not drawn out or exaggerated either and the story ends well.
Notwithstanding the intrigue, 118 uses lucid dreams as an easy fix instead of investing in better writing. The paranormal component of the movie adds less value (since it’s not really an out-and-out paranormal movie) and takes away more, considering that the angle it offers could have been replaced by a well-written realistic part too. This is a miss on the part of the director, who probably wanted to use paranormal activity/dreaming/spirits as an add-on to his story, which had enough going for it anyway, and could have been an excellent script on investigative journalism a la The Post or Spotlight.
Even the editing is sketchy at times. Sample this – at one point, Gautam finds a glass shard with blood on it, and while he is desperate for clues, he barely pursues this angle – the DNA. When eventually the audience realize what panned out, not pursuing that piece of evidence feels weird.
It also feels a tad annoying to see that Gautam is doing it all by himself. Given the deep-rooted scandal he is chasing, you would expect him to be more careful, especially considering he is close buddies with a powerful police officer. Since Gautam is driven by the need to find out the truth and not by the fame that could come by unearthing the conspiracy, there is no reason for him to risk so many lives and the entire story by going solo. It is also strange that a conspiracy of this magnitude is handled by henchmen who barely know how to do their job. At one point, a corporate tycoon at the core of the conspiracy asks his henchman to get done with the murder, clean and fast. The method chosen by the henchman – smash the woman into pulp, roll her into a carpet and drag it openly out of the resort room. If that is clean, you wonder what is untidy
Lucid dreaming theme
Lacks universal appeal
Irrespective of the cracks in the story and missed logics, go watch this one for the edgy narrative. But be warned; do not try to dig too deep into it, for you might just miss out on a fine thriller that tries to deliver more than the usual heroics. Especially go watch this one for Nivetha Thomas and Kalyan Ram, you will not regret it.
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