RAKKHOSH- India’s First POV Thriller.

As a fan of foreign films, I was excited recently when I was contacted by Creative Producer  Prashen Kyawal about the release of the Indian thriller Rakkhosh. Rakkhosh is the first Indian film using the first person Point of View (POV) technique and proved to be quite intriguing. Released on June 20th this year, it is currently available for viewing on Netflix. It is a foreign film, so it is presented in Hindi, but English subtitles are available.

With films like Hardcore Henry and Cloverfield putting POV films back in the forefront of movie goers minds, it’s easy to see its appeal to modern filmmakers. Directors Abhijit Kokate and Srivinay Salian work together to craft a brilliantly inspired fresh take on insanity.

Rakkhosh centres around a troubled asylum inmate named Birsa. Birsa is our lead and we see everything from his perspective. The story focuses on his own troubled past and how that helps confuse his grip on reality, as fellow hospital residents begin disappearing at the hands of an unknown entity.

Let me start off with the camera techniques. From rotating shots, as we follow Birsa through the Jantar Mantar (a building beside the asylum where Rakkhosh lures and claims his victims), to the frantic sweeps around the asylum itself we are easily drawn into this gritty, harrowing world of mental illness, mistreatment and mayhem.

Birsa himself seems pretty put together, considering where he is. Using his voice Namit Das does a great job conveying worry, fear, excitement and confusion. We can hear in the tone in his voice how Birsa feels. And through the limited vision of his movements we can see what he endures.

Birsa’s only friend is Kumar John. An older inmate portrayed by Sanjay Mishra. Mishra works tirelessly to play the lovable, cheeky self professed mystic (often its his Dashavstar Ganjifa  cards that predict each victim). Mishra moves around smoothly, making Das’ movements with him equally graceful, creating a connection between the characters that is genuine and relatable.

Also in this ensemble cast is Priyanka Bose who stars as Kumar Johns “daughter” Ridhidima (who Birsa mistrusts frequently and refers to her as “Fake Daughter”, allowing you to question her motives and actual character). Bose is a very talented actress and known previously for her role in Lion, the Oscar nominated and BAFTA winning film from 2016 starring Dev Patal. Bose plays an investigative journalist trying to cease the disappearances fantastically, but balances that role well with her other of concerned “daughter” of Kumar John.

Tannishtha Chatterjee shines beautifully as Birsa’s well meaning sister Shoma. Chatterjee does amazingly to convey that Shoma does all she can for her sick brother, and in the film’s climax we see the lengths she has gone to to help him.

Mental Nurse Kalima’s amazingly menacing and superbly evilly wide eyed portrayal from Sanomani Jayant, stands out as one you can really enjoy. Jayant is cool, calm and collected with the perfect dash of aggression as the asylums unkind nurse.

The incredibly corrupted Dr Idris Shah is brought to life by Barun Chanda. Chanda is a known seasoned actor in India and is well known for his debut starring role in the Satyajit Ray social drama  Seemabaddha (1971). Chanda works hard throughout the film, to portray the doctor as being little involved in the ill deeds  undertaken in his asylum. Chanda’s ability to demonstrate his capabilities is strong, as truths are revealed and we see more and more of his characters greedy ways.

I liken Chanda’s character and portrayal strongly to that of a combination of both Dr Berrisford (played by Harris Yulin) in the 1988 film Bad Dreams, and Dr Frederick Chilton ( played by Anthony Heald) in The Silence of the Lambs/ Red Dragon Films.

Also worthy of mentioning is Atul Mahale, who plays Swapnil. Mahale navigates his role as the easily bribed corrupt class three officer well and adds to the swirling unease of the film.

Rakkhosh is very lengthy for its style and subject matter and could easily be shaved of a few minutes here and there, but otherwise the development of the plot and direction by Abhijit Kokate and Srivinay Salian is spot on in enticing the viewers to watch on more and more as the film progresses.

Dinesh Gopal was the editor of Rakkhosh, who worked tirelessly on creating the believable aesthetic that became Birsa’s first person point of view. It was through Gopal’s editing that he used various techniques to  humanise the character of Birsa. From when Birsa would open and close his eyes by fading to black in such a way , or even blurring the images to convey when he was dizzy. These helped the narrative stay perfect in its first person POV for the viewer and steady the combination of illogical and logical  going ons throughout the film.

The film Rakkhosh was produced by Sayali And Santosh Deshpande, who helm SD Motion Pictures.

It’s also to be noted that the first person Cinematographer was Basile Pierrat, who is known for a style which elicits the same style of first person story telling. Pierrat is a well known French filmmaker, who explores music videos, commercials and short and feature films.

Srivinay Salian is also the writer of the screenplay for Rakkhosh. He adapted the story from a famous Marathi Language novel by prominent Indian horror writer Narayan Dharap. Dharap was also responsible for the novel Tumbbad, which has since also been made into a film. Dharap is often referred to the Indian equivalent of Stephen King.

As always I will not reveal any more to avoid providing spoilers, but I do encourage all fans of unique thrillers to check out  Rakkhosh on their Netflix.

 

Posted by Michelle MIDI Peifer

Hailing from Sydney Australia and injecting a dose of Aussie Flavour to her reviews, Midi began her horror love in Birmingham England at a very young age and is always trying to find the next local or indie horror talent to share with the world.

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