Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Vinodhini Vaidyanathan
Director: Ashwin Saravanan
Ashwin Saravanan’s, Game Over, is actually a Telugu film dubbed in Hindi. It is one of those films that gets you on the edge of the seat almost immediately as it starts.
The film opens with a chilling murder wherein a young girl Amrita’s (Sanchana Natrajan) life is brutally snuffed out, setting the tone for what is to follow. Quite evidently there is a criminal on the loose, out on a killing spree. The swiftness with which the screenplay establishes the presence of an almost invisible culprit lurking around is remarkable. As a member of the audience you are left with no choice but to keenly anticipate about what’s going to happen next. But, this is not a whodunit. To the contrary, Game Over, lives up to its name-- akin to video games the story is all about surviving the deadly killers.
Director Ashwin Saravanan along with his co-writer Kaavya Ramkumar sets up the story ingeniously- peeling layer after layer. Or perhaps, level after level. From the moment we set our eyes on Sapna’s (Taapsee Pannu) almost picture perfect life, there is a sinking feeling that things are likely to go horribly wrong. However, to the writers’ credit, the story does not follow the predictable path. It unravels rapidly layer upon layer, revealing startling aspects to Sapna and her cloistered life. What seems idyllic begins to crumble as the plot swiftly thickens.
Taapsee Pannu who is turning out to be an actress of many shades takes on the challenge gamely. With an inspired performance in a film that does not allow you the luxury of excessive cinematic expansiveness, Taapsee handles Sapna’s character extremely well. Giving her able company is Vinodhini Vaidyanathan as Kalamma, playing the perfect foil to Taapsee’s on-the-edge Sapna. The two keep you engrossed right till the very end.
Pretty early on, you can see that this is a concept film. Sapna is an avid gamer and her life, with a little intervention from the deceased Amita, soon begins to resemble a game with different levels of difficulty. The film then unspools a narrative technique of repeating the same situation as it happens typically in a game. This format of revisiting the same incidents again and again with varying outcomes has been done a few times in Hollywood -from Groundhog Day to Run Lola Run to the recent web series Russian Doll. I won’t give away too many details of the story so as not to kill the surprise for you but employing this narrative technique in Game Over is an experiment to be welcomed. The downside is that a repetition of the events does come in the way of the high tension suspense built up in the early part. A pity.
One cannot help but marvel at how well the younger South-Indian film-makers have begun to combine Indian concepts with western ones. Game Over with its paranormal-meets-noir is a good example. Hindi cinema which has struggled to combine science and fantasy with mainstream stories is smart in taking a leaf from their book (Anurag Kashyap is the presenter of the Hindi version of Game Over).
Regardless of the box-office collection for the Hindi version of Game Over, the film is worth a watch not merely for entertainment but for its new-age cinematic virtues.
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