Psycho – Looking For Answers

Mysskin is one of my favorite directors working in Tamil cinema today. There are very few like him who take the time to meticulously stage a scene. What the writer/director does with Psycho is show flashes of brilliance mixed with moments of indifference. The latter part was my reaction to the events unfolding. But still, his staging, use of lights is as vivid as ever. Without telling you too much about the plot, there are many interesting elements that needed to be explored more. The fact that they aren’t is a little surprising given Mysskin’s mastery over these aspects.

So what is Psycho about? Well, it is about a serial killer, it is about a blind man looking for his love. The way Mysskin interweaves these two story lines is impressive but it does not keep you hooked enough. Psycho begins to feel a little lengthy by the time we are in the second half. I have nothing against long films but a film with a central idea like this, needs to have an injection of pace. I felt that some of the revelations could have been shown much earlier. But the way we get to those revelations is a delight in themselves.

The performances across the board are what we have come to expect from the director’s world. If you are a fan of Mysskin, you will like it. Otherwise, there is a chance that it feels a little jarring. The actor playing the titular character is really menacing but is sure to break your heart in one scene. This kind of range is commendable and kudos to him for pulling it off. One of the most impressive aspects of Psycho is the production design and in particular the killer’s lair. There is a scene set in this area which involves Christian imagery and fire. That’s all I will tell you but it is one of the most unsettling sequences I’ve seen in a film for a long time. This is the power that someone like Mysskin has. He can shake you to your core but it doesn’t happen often enough here.

I kept wondering how Psycho would have shaped up without the central love story. It drives the story forward but somehow I felt that it ended up slowing down the overall flow of the film. In the hands of another director, this would have been a film of how the blind protagonist overcomes challenges. Mysskin is more interested in the psychological aspect of humans. This is also evident in the way the Nithya Menen character is written. There is a real sense of bitterness but somewhere there is a sliver of hope hidden. Perhaps this is what he’s trying to say about the film’s Psycho as well. The motivation behind the killer’s actions are convincing and that makes you empathetic but not really sympathetic. This level of feeling is not really present in the love story as it feels quite generic. Psycho is the director Mysskin showing off his brilliance but the writer Mysskin is not able to complement him enough. It is interesting, intriguing but the feeling I had at the end of it was that it could have been better.

Until next time, bye.

Ustad Hotel – To Grandfather With Love

Ustad Hotel is a special film for a number of reasons. While all of us have something that we like, I’d like to talk about my personal connection to the film. In many ways, the film is about the bond between a grandfather and his grandson. This is the aspect of Ustad Hotel that appealed to me the most. From a very young age, I have been very close to my grandfather and seeing the bond between Dulquer and Thilakan filled me with so much joy.

There are a lot of themes that the film touches upon including Sufism, Altruism and the role that food plays in our lives. But this relationship is the beating heart of the film for me. Without the bond between Faizi and Kareem Bhai, the story wouldn’t move the way it does. Any scene with the two can be picked out and looked at but I have chosen one that is quite close to my heart.

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It is the scene they share on the beach where Kareem Bhai teaches Faizi the importance of love in any aspect of life. Seeing this scene brings back so many memories of time spent with my grandfather. Listening to old Hindi songs, making tea at midnight after watching a cricket/football match are all moments that come flooding back when I see Faizi and Kareem Bhai. The black tea or ‘Sulemani’ that they have encompasses all that the grandfather wants to teach his grandson.

This refers to the fact that we must include a little bit of love in whatever we do as that is what it makes anything better. I’m not totally sure if I have said something about Ustad Hotel in a coherent manner but sometimes that’s the way emotions work. They take hold of you and make you feel even when you don’t want to. I would like to thank Anjali Menon for writing a story that will forever be etched in my heart and mind.

Until next time, bye.