Rating : 3.25/5
Manthra…nilayam 1 km
A haunting horror hotshot of a celluloid divertimento
Yes, the wondrous wisdom of Longfellow sings… ring out the old and ring in the new . With Gen’next Films Manthra…nilayam 1 km, the 21st century next generation genre of Tollywood cinema has arrived.
I am now of the firm opinion that A Film by Aravind is not a mere accident. It is a trend setter. While watching Manthra, I recalled two excellent films of the horror genre: A Nightmare on Elm Street by Wes Craven (1984) and The Sixth Sense by M.Night Shyamalan (1999). Manthra equals those two films in the degree of quality of presentation.
Manthra (Charmi), whose father suddenly expires, faces the problem of repaying her late father’s loans. She owns a lonely bungalow, named Manthra Nilayam, on the outskirts of Hyderabad. If she can sell it, all her financial problems will be solved and she can cut her debut Telugu pop album. However, there is one problem. That beautiful bungalow is haunted. A Bihari couple, who rented that house, was murdered mysteriously. So, no one wants to stay there.
Rangaswamy (Mallikarjuna Rao) Manthra’s uncle contacts a Professor friend and motivates him to purchase Manthra Nilayam. But, there is one hitch. The professor wants someone to stay in that bungalow for three months and stays alive. Then only he will purchase that bungalow.
Meanwhile, a small time rowdy, who calls himself Hero (Shivaji), is given the task of recovering from Manthra, the amounts her late father owed. He comes to Manthra’s house and parks himself. He tells her that he will not budge an inch, until he recovers the full amount from her. She cannot pay him, until she can sell Manthra Nilayam. Since the professor will buy the house, if someone stays in that house for three months, Hero offers to stay in that Bhoot Bangla.
What happens in the haunted Manthra Nilayam to Hero, his friends and Manthra is to be seen on the silver screen to be believed.
Charmi gives a spectacular performance. I will not be surprised if she bags Best Actress award in the Nandi, National and Filmfare selections. For Shivaji, this film will remain forever as a once in lifetime best performance. Jeeva, Mallikarjuna Rao, Karuna, Kausha, Chitram Srinu and Vijay Sai excel in their limited roles. The diction, intonation and modulation of dialogue delivery of all the lead and supporting actors are outstanding.
On his debut, director Tulasiram did a splendid job. For me, Manthra looked like Made in Hollywood and Born in Tollywood. I have a lurking feeling that the author may be alumni of the School of Film Making, UCLA, USA.
However, in the screenplay the climax has been extended. The End for this film should have been, when Hero kills the mad man by throwing him out of the glassy French window. By definition, screenplay is an inexorable progression of scenes, For example, scene number 7 ought to be a logical extension of scene number 6.
In the film, when the friends of Hero go to Manthra Nilayam they see a blood strewn wooden peg protruding out of the wall. We know that it pierced the neck of the house wife who rented the bungalow. Obviously the screenplay writer might have overlooked logic in favour of cinematic effect.
Logic tells us that when a woman has been murdered and a man has been burnt alive, wont the police arrive on the scene and preserve the blood covered wooden peg as a vital piece of evidence ? Irrespective of literacy or otherwise, the human mind has an inherent proclivity for logical thinking.
Cinematography by debutant Sivendra is simply spectacular. The use of light and shadow, fluorescent Lagaan type yellow tint for night effect and balancing indoor and outdoor shots is fantabulous.
There are only two songs composed by Anand, also a debutant. Both the songs are hauntingly melodious as well as foot-tapping. The background score is memorable and appropriate enough to enhance the scene value.
Choreography by Prem Raxit is truly sensational. The song picturised on Kausha is an erotic extravaganza and reminds us of the popular Shakira numbers. The second song on Charmi, a rasping rap canned with raving reverberations, betters even Jennifer Lopez’s best.
Manthra…nilayam 1 km is eminently watch-able. It is a haunting horror hotshot of a celluloid divertimento. The film has an imminent core energy, which greatly enhances its re-view value.