BOTTOM LINE: A Tacky Drama With a Horror-Twist
|Platform: ZEE5||Genre: Horror|
Skin and swear: Occasional utterances of cuss words, no skin show
What Is the Story About?
Colonel Vishwa, his wife Jahnvi and their young daughter Sanah seem to be another happy family. However, beyond that façade, Vishwa is just an insecure husband who doesn’t come to terms with her wife’s past. Trouble seems to be mounting in the paradise and it’s further compounded by the arrival of soldier Ateet, once considered dead in a war many years ago. Ateet and Jahnvi’s equation keeps haunting Vishwa and it’s followed by a death of a pivotal character that has mysteriously been labelled a suicide. How will it affect Jahnvi and Sanah? Will Ateet be able to return to a place he once considered his own?
Priyamani is a good casting choice to portray a mother who goes to any lengths to protect her daughter. She’s excellent with her Hindi dialogue delivery, is a picture of grace in her costumes and handles the most clichéd of sequences with an element of subtlety best known to her. One wonders why South Indian films fail to give Priyamani her due these days. Sanjay Suri makes good use of a role that explores his greyer shades as an actor – though the part deserved more meat and a stronger purpose.
Rajeev Khandelwal makes a decent meal of his character while he lasts, but it’s sad that not a single film beyond his debut (Aamir) has offered him anything concrete to push his limits. Neha Bam, Vipin Sharma and child actor Deshna Dugad are among other performers who get decent scope to shine in Ateet.
It’s never a pleasant sight to notice a solid star cast being wasted in a poor film (that doesn’t at all deserve them). Ateet is a tacky relationship drama with a supernatural twist that never quite takes off. The atmospherics and the characterisation remain sketchy from the word go. The story harps back to the past of the pivotal characters intermittently and keeps presenting the many insecurities of the army man with little narrative flair/effect. Because the director preserves most of his ‘surprises’ (which never surprise) for the later part of the film, you never understand the characters or their intentions completely.
The core idea of Ateet seems to be a re-imagination of Raj Kapoor’s Sangam with a supernatural dimension. What if a man, once considered dead, returns to his place that doesn’t care for him anymore? Both soldiers Vishwa and Ateet, best friends-turned-foes, are interested in the same girl. There’s more complexity to the story because the friends belong to the same profession (unlike Sangam where only Raj Kapoor was in the army). Ateet isn’t a case of a story gone wrong, it just doesn’t know to structure its material efficiently.
What if the director didn’t spell out Vishwa’s insecurities in the very first hour (it would have been great had he delayed the inevitable for long) and had told the story from the point of view of two best friends whose equation turns sour over a period of time? The story of Ateet is ultimately about a father who wanted to spend a few moments with his beloved after a 10-year-exile. There’s no depth in the storytelling for the viewer to empathise with the plight of the father. That the director chooses to tell this through a mere ‘twist’ and a one-liner dialogue is another reason for the superficiality in the setting.
The supernatural element in the story is handled rather amateurishly while superstition is nearly glorified. The treatment is so dull that the jumpscares too doze you off. As a bare minimum for the genre it uses to tell the story, Ateet needed more atmospheric tension. The hilly areas and the serene landscapes are a wasted backdrop to generate eeriness. Minus the thrills, emotion and even a half-decent screenplay, the only reason for some cheer in Ateet is its lead cast. Boredom just earned another synonym with this one.
Music and Other Departments?
It’s a relief to watch a web original that still trusts songs as a storytelling device – the Sonu Nigam-sung number to establish the equation between Jahnvi and Vishwa is probably the film’s best. The placement of the other numbers is mostly unimaginative though. The background score is non-indulgent, the visuals rely on tried and tested tropes that barely work. The writer of the film had a strong dramatic material and with some smartness, the horror subplot could have been juxtaposed more sensibly.
Lead cast performances
A promising story idea
Terrible horror angle
Modest technical standards
Did I Enjoy It?
Will You Recommend It?
Review by Srivathsan Nadadhur
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