Chathur Mukham Review: A cautionary tale on technology overuse designed as a pulpy horror thriller

Updated on Jul 10, 2021 10:21 AM IST  |  336.3K
Chathur Mukham Review: A cautionary tale on technology overuse designed as a pulpy horror thriller

Movie Name: Chathur Mukham

Chathur Mukham Directors: Ranjeet Kamala Sankar and Salil Menon

Chathur Mukham Cast: Manju Warrier and Sunny Wayne

Chathur Mukham Streaming Platform: ZEE 5

Chathur Mukham Rating: 3.5 Stars


Can excessive dependence of technology destroy your personal life? This seems to be the central conceit around which the latest Malayalam techno thriller film Chathur Mukham is built around.

This film which was released shortly in theaters for a brief stint in the first week of April had to be called back like the rest of the movies owing to the onset of the second wave of the pandemic in India. There were a few favorable reviews for the film at the time however it could not sustain its run and the film gets a second chance to premier owing to the OTT revolution that has taken Indian cinema by surprise lately. Chathur Mukham is about a tech savvy businesswoman Thejaswini (Manju Warrier) whose days starts with her phone and ends with it like many people of our generation these days. She treats her phone like a portal to escape to the fantastical world of social media where she virtually lives the whole day.

Thejaswini is running a CCTV solutions firm with her partner Anthony (Sunny Wayne), things don’t look very good for them as they struggle to make ends meets and pay off their employee salaries. However, during her visit to hometown, she loses her phone and is forced to buy a relatively cheaper model online. The handset curiously titled Lisa sets the narrative in motion as Thejaswini starts experiencing wild and sometimes borderline insane encounters with her new phone as it starts to develop a mind of its own. This plot point is a done to death trope in horror films with writers trying to infuse some novelty to the otherwise dry, tasteless ghost stories however the writing here does something interesting by juxtaposing the story of a regular mobile addict with that of an evil, possessed handset determined to make life a living hell for its owner.

 The directing partners Saleel V and Ranjit Kamala Shankar use some of the weirdest camera angles and shots in the book to evoke the eerie atmosphere that the narrative demands and almost pulls off paranoia of the leading lady caught in a literal countdown to death. We get inverted Dutch angle shots of sweaty human faces, shots from inside driving wheels and within refrigerators and spooky cut away shots through the narrative. However, in this story of the supernatural the narrative poses the counter perspective of science through the retired professor Clement ( Alencier Lopez ) who is asked by Anthony to look into the strange events that are happening in Thejaswini’s life. The casting of Alancier Lopez to play the talking head professor is a bit of a misfire as the actor looks out to place in a role that demanded much more poise and controlled flamboyance.

Chathur Mukam works due to its inventive writing that finds ways to extract genuine surprise at some moments with creative writing choices and intriguing horror set pieces. Manju Warrier holds the films in places where the narrative wanders and lends an understated nuance to the performance making the plight of the character seem empathetic at various moments. Sunny Wayne has not much to do in a film that is designed totally around the star persona of Manju yet he managers to make the underwritten part interesting. The film never tries to undermine the female lead and gives us a payoff where she stands up for herself and not wait for the hero to save the day, which felt like a welcome change in our films these days. Chathur Mukham is an entertaining thriller with its fair share of thrills, intrigue that could have done with a lesser running time. The film delivers a timely and relevant message on the ever-increasing reliance on technology and the current generations gradual descent into social media limbo.

Review By: Arjun Menon