Critic’s Rating : / 5
Masooda Movie Review : This one’s for the horror fanatics
Review: Director Sai Kiran pulls off a deft horror film with his maiden outing, Masooda. If you’re a fan of horror, the basic beats of the film might be familiar but he does a good job of not just lending it a local flavour but also ensuring the film remains rooted enough for you to connect with the characters.
Gopikrishna (Thiruveer) is a software employee who’s like family to his neighbours – single mother, science teacher Neelam (Sangitha) and her young daughter Naziya (Bandhavi Sridhar). His introduction is a very telling one. Gopi might be as much of a coward as anyone else but he is also willing to put himself in harm’s way if it means he can help someone in need. On fine night, Neelam finds herself banging his door. She needs help. Her daughter is exhibiting signs of what could either be mental illness or possession. He is scared but also savvy enough to Google how to perform an exorcism. Just in case. What does all of this have to do with the titular Masooda? You smile, sometimes chuckle, jump, stare wide eyed at the screen and flinch at what follows.
Masooda might be centered around the possible possession of a young girl but the film raises many questions about the way we treat each other too. Can family only be defined by those bound by blood? Are women only valuable to society if they behave a certain way? As the film peels back the layers and tries to provide a glimpse of who the titular Masooda bi truly is, Neelam also fights to save her child, proving she’s capable of doing the job without the help of her husband. To reveal anything much would be a disservice.
The word ‘Masooda’ might mean happy and fortunate but the film is anything but that. Sai Kiran makes excellent use of the world he has built to ease us into what’s unfurling. He wastes no time getting into the thick of things when it comes to the gore and violence. Rotting walls and piling garbage on the street seem to denote the state of affairs. The golden glow of the morning makes way to the blues and reds of the night with ease. Light, darkness, sound (or lack of it) all aid well in telling a tale that keeps you engaged despite the lengthy run-time and pace. Cinematographer Nagesh Banell and music composer Prashanth R Vihari deserve a special shout-out.
Sangitha is interesting as Neelam. She’s a believer of science yet someone who finds herself relying on faith to save her child. She gets a meaty role that gives her to scope to perform; she goes all out with it. Thiruveer’s character might take decisions that are unconventional yet heroic at the same time. Yet he plays Gopi well so you always stay connected to his character and understand his motivations. Some of his dialogues will make you chuckle, bringing in some light-heartedness in an otherwise dark film. Bandhavi is given a difficult role that could either turn caricaturish or channel Regan from The Exorcist at any given moment. But she manages to balance the role well. Subhalekha Sudhakar and Sai Rajesh pull off their roles with ease.
Kavya Kalyanram plays Gopi’s crush and office colleague. Their love track might seem unnecessary, not to mention elongated. There’s also an attempt made to bring her back into the fold by the end that might not completely work. The actress delivers none-the-less. The film loses steam at a particular sequence towards the end when an attempt is made to fight Masooda. As the story unravels you also wait for certain questions to be answered. But the makers seem to want to hold the cards in hope of a sequel. The decision might not sit well with impatient viewers even if the ending does make you want to watch it, whenever it’s made.
Masooda is a well-made horror offering. If you’re a fan of the slow burn, this one’s for you. It’s also for you if you’re the kind of horror fanatic who’s into gore. The film is packed with ample sequences to make you squirm either way. It’s the kind of film you wished had released for Halloween – definitely not for the faint-hearted.