Gaami Review: A Gorgeous, Emotionally Charged Adventure That Is As Epic As It Is Intimate

Vidayadhar Kagita’s debut is a stunning film that has enough substance to overpower its flaws
Gaami review
Gaami review

Director: Vidyadhar Kagita

Writers: Pratyush Vatyam, Vidyadhar Kagita

Cast: Vishwak Sen, Chandini Chowdary, MG Abhinaya, Mohammad Samad, Harika Pedada

Available in: Theatres

Duration: 148 minutes

Mild spoilers ahead

In Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan (2015), a dark moment plays out with a degree of mundanity we rarely expect from a subject as serious as death. It features Vicky Kaushal, who works with his family at the cremation ghats of Varanasi and uses the fire from a funeral pyre to light the stove in his house. His normalcy might surprise you but it exists to make a strong point about how normal death is to this man. His family’s life depends on death. Until I watched Gaami, I felt this was the most poignant portrayal of the relationship between life and death, the conditions that are considered antonyms, in our films. But then came a point in the second half of Gaami that’s not just mind-blowing on a conceptual level, but is incredibly moving and poetic, albeit in a devastating way.

It’s impossible to describe the magic of this moment without spoiling it but if I have to try, it features fire and ice, the opposites, capturing the essence of life, death, and how death paves the way for life. This moment also brings together the core interests of Gaami — nature and humanity— and it bursts with compassion, something the film strongly stands for.

A still from the film
A still from the film

Gaami places the viewing experience above ‘telling a story’. It’s a simple story but with a complex edit pattern that often creates some restless moments, in both good and bad ways. The film follows three stories. Firstly, Shankar, an Aghora on a trial to the Himalayas to find the cure for his rare condition — his inability to experience human touch; his body reacts extremely when his skin comes in contact with another human and he believes it’s a curse. Secondly, a young Uma (Harika Pedada), the estranged daughter of Durga (MG Abhinaya), a devadasi on the verge of dying. The third story, the most disturbing one, follows an unnamed youngster being tortured and treated like a lab rat in an illegal medical facility near the India-China border.

The edit keeps juggling between the three narratives, often cutting at tense points and creating the urge (which comes with a level of annoyance) to learn more. Sure, this mix-up is likely to bother you because it also tends to bring the progression of the story to a screeching halt at multiple instances, but it’s a brilliantly edited film, one that makes the most of its non-linear screenplay. 

Numerous moments draw parallels between the three narratives; some are subtle and some are on your face but my favourite has to be the point where Shankar saves Jahnavi (Chandini Chowdary) — a doctor who is also looking for the rare medication and accompanies him to the Himalayas — from drowning in a lake. He frees her trapped leg, and the shot instantly cuts to Uma running in liberation. And in a film that brings three stories together, it’s definitely not coincidental that Shankar’s adventure begins from Triveni. Even the symbol of the medical facility is a flower-like shape formed by the confluence of three identical elements, alluding to the connection between Uma, the unnamed patient, and Shankar. The film is packed with details, setups, and payoffs, which, once again are subtle and on-your-face, but certainly add to the experience.

A still from the film
A still from the film

The film can be brutal at times and the ‘A’ rating is understandable. The sequences set in the medical facility exude a sinistrous, claustrophobic vibe that makes watching them unpleasant. The colours, lighting, and costumes… everything about these sequences is ominous and at one point, the discomfort hits the roof when a medical procedure is realistically portrayed in all its ugliness. It’s brief but it does shake you.

As an adventure, Gaami does feature some moments that require you to suspend your disbelief and I was willing to give the film that leeway because the effort to realise these moments is evident on screen. And I didn’t want to nitpick the loopholes because they don’t pull you out of the world you are immersed into. And at times when we are willing to overlook massive loopholes in commercial cinema because “it’s not reality,” why question the same in a film that’s going all out to create incredibly ambitious moments? Are some moments hard to believe? Sure. But do they ruin the viewing experience? No. 

Gaami is technically solid. Vishwanath Reddy Chelumalla is credited as the DoP while Rampy Nandigam is credited as the Co-DoP, and their frames, especially in the Himalayan terrain are drop-dead gorgeous. Yes, in some instances, the technical challenges are palpable since some shots don’t have the master quality, but these glitches pale in comparison to the visual highs the film delivers. Be it the long drone shots capturing the cinematic landscape in all its glory or the handheld movement during the intense sequences, they all collectively immerse you into the world. And every time Naresh Kumaran blasts his theme music, you just know you are witnessing an epic, both visually and emotionally.


For all the epicness it boasts, the film manages to beautifully trigger a dialogue about humanity, nature, the need for compassion, and the catastrophic results of mankind’s efforts to alter nature. If you look at it, there are two bad guys in the story — a village head whose belief in faith adversely impacts the life of Uma and the evil doctor whose belief in science compels him to go against the order of nature. Gaami yells aloud that humans will keep exploiting faith and science, with nature being the ultimate solution. Nature too isn’t kind to Shankar but only that can undo the sins of humans committed in the name of faith and science. The film also stands up for humanity, with the protagonists of all three stories getting enough support from an individual to uplift them — an old man in the case of Uma, a fellow inmate for the medical prisoner, and Jahnavi for Shankar.

Gaami is an epic and it marks the arrival of a strong filmmaking voice. It talks about the evils of humans and also celebrates human resilience. The film might not be perfect, but it is an effort that needs to be lauded, one that needs to be... felt.

Related Stories

No stories found.