Gatham came as a surprise. There was no publicity drive and even those in the media came to know about the Telugu film barely a few days before it began streaming on Amazon Prime Video. An independent project by a group of Indian origin film buffs living in the United States, it was pitched as a psychological thriller.
- Cast: Bhargava Poludasu, Rakesh Galebhe, Poojitha Kuraparthi
- Direction: Kiran Reddy
- Music: Sricharan Pakala
- Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
Gatham opens with an aerial view of a snow-covered terrain in which two people scurry for their lives, only to succumb. Within minutes there are other snapshots of crime, following which one of the primary characters, Rishi (Rakesh Galebhe, whose voice and diction is similar to Vijay Deverakonda) wakes up in a hospital and is told that he has suffered brain damage and memory loss.
Rishi cannot remember the woman who is supposedly his girlfriend (Poojitha); they remain cordial but emotionally distant to each other, given the circumstances they are in.
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Gatham begins to plod along familiar tropes of a psychological crime thriller. After a car breakdown, when the couple find themselves cornered in a secluded house with a father and son who display psychopath traits, it looks like yet another cold and lifeless thriller of trapped people desperately trying to escape. Only Sricharan Pakala’s background score managed to pique some interest.
I nearly gave up on the film after the first 30 minutes, when the father (Bhargava Poludasu) says an utterly cringe-inducing line. But the curiosity of wanting to see where the plot was headed got the better of me. And Gatham slowly pulls the rug from under the viewers’ feet to reveal its true colours.
You know that something is amiss in the way new characters pop-up and the conversations are staged, punctuated with memory flashes of women being in trouble. With no memory of the past, Rishi is as much in the dark as anyone viewing the film.
Gatham then turns the tables and makes us look at the character afresh, which isn’t entirely unexpected. But there’s an earnestness in its storytelling. Even when the later portions basically work as a recap to put things in perspective, it sustains interest because this indie-spirited film is sure about its narrative style.
There are misgivings, like the investigation by the cops never adding up to anything concrete in the plot or every other person turning out to be Telugu-speaking in the US.
Yet, Gatham plays out like a short story neatly being woven into place to pin down the culprit. To discuss anything more about the storyline would mean revealing spoilers.
Barring Bhargava Poludasu who is impressive, the acting all around is just about adequate and there are no frills in production, given the shoestring budget. Gatham has a runtime of an hour and 44 minutes, and comes from a team that knows to narrate a story. At the end of the day, that matters a great deal.
(Gatham streams on Amazon Prime Video)