Bramayugam review: This Mammootty-starrer is ‘one hell of a movie’!

In Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1944 play ‘No Exit’ (original French title, Huis Clos), one would see three demanded souls reaching hell. They expect fire and torture devices, however, instead, they would find themselves locked in a plain room from which they cannot just leave. In Rahul Sadasivan’s Mammootty-starrer Bramayugam also, one would find three damned souls stuck up in an old mana (house of aristocratic Namboodiri Brahmins). Sartre in “No Exit” delves into the philosophical point of view that “Hell is other people,”. Presented as a period horror drama, this black and white film also presents a comparable viewpoint, where each character arrives at a juncture where they realize that hell is other people exerting power over them.

The film begins with a scene depicting two men who have lost their way in the forest, seeking shelter for the night. However, one of them inadvertently falls into the enchanting snare of a yakshi, who lures him to his death. The second one, Thevan (Arjun Ashokan), realises that it is a yakshi and runs, and he enters the mana. At this very moment, this writer too, sensed getting lured into the “world of madness” created by Rahul Sadasivan, which fortunately gave “one hell of an experience”, literally!

Inside the old mana, which is in a dilapidated state, Thevan encounters Koduman Potti (Mammotty)—an old man—and his helper (Siddharth Bharatan). From there the film follows the perspective of Thevan, who would soon find the dark secrets about Potti and his helper. Mammootty delivers an outstanding performance, embodying an exceptionally cunning and eerie evil character. Bramayugam stands as yet another testament to the veteran actor’s meticulousness and discernment in choosing scripts. The film serves as a testament to the extent of parakaya pravesha that the method actor can achieve when presented with a challenging character. Mammootty portrays Potti with a diverse array of mannerisms and distinctive body language that exudes both authority and charm.

Bharatan’s character is a stone-faced one, which hides secrets from both Thevan and Potti. And, the actor-director does justice to his character. Meanwhile, Ashokan gets a chance to deliver a full range of expressions from hope to ultimate horror. Amalda Liz portrays the Yakshi character; despite having no dialogue and minimal screen time, Sadasivan ensures that Liz’s portrayal leaves a significant impact on the audience.

When viewing Bramayugam, it’s clear that Sadasivan’s decision to present the film in black and white goes beyond its genre as a period drama. It is within the interplay of light and shadows, accompanied by the haunting music, that the filmmaker conceals the horrors. There is a clever use of graphical storytelling while the narrative takes a dip into a flashback. Sadasivan, a filmmaker who has already demonstrated his proficiency in the horror genre with his 2022 film Bhoothakalam, finds himself bolstered by an even more robust script in Bramayugam.

Renowned writer T.D. Ramakrishnan, celebrated for his novels such as ‘Alpha’, ‘Francis Itty Kora’, and ‘Sugandhi Enna Andal Devanayaki’—where he deftly intertwines history, anthropology, science, and myths—serves as the co-writer of Bramayugam. Ramakrishnan’s talent for seamlessly blending fantastical realms with the mundane is evident in Bramayugam as well. Moreover, the dialogues he crafted for this film serve as an exemplary model for aspiring writers of period dramas.

Shehnad Jalal—who was the cinematographer for Bhootakalam—did the role of Director of Photography (DOP) for Bramayugam. Jalal’s visuals are mesmerizing and seamlessly complement the narrative and world crafted by Sadasivan. Christo Xavier’s scoring and music perfectly complement the film’s tone and treatment. There’s a sense of minimalism evident in the arrangement of the six songs within the narrative. The art team of Bramayugam also deserves praise for their creation of a haunting and decrepit mansion, which serves as a significant character in the story.

Bramayugam has a major reliance on visual storytelling, but its memorability isn’t derived from visual gimmicks or jump scares. Instead, it’s the intricate world-building orchestrated by Sadasivan, with significant support from Ramakrishnan, within a confined yet evocative setting, that truly captivated this reviewer. Once more, the film underscores the timeless adage that content is  king!

Film: Bramayugam

Director: Rahul Sadasivan

Cast: Mammootty, Arjun Ashokan, Siddharth Bharatan

Rating: 4/5