Director: Bugs Bhargava
Cast: Amit Sadh, Manjari Faddnis and Aaryan Menghji
Last week, I had the misfortune of watching Zee5’s Dhrusti, a Telugu murder-mystery that was barely myseterious, and murdered momentarily my appetite for cinema. This week, too, a similar misfortune befell me, with Barot House. But this one hurt more, because it seemed promising.
The success of a murder-suspense film hinges almost entirely on how you unravel that suspense of the murder, how many smokes and mirrors are there to distract, distort, and detour, and how believable these distractions are. Even a film as campy and ridiculous as 36 China Town worked for that genre because watching it, my intuition kept changing, my gut of who the killer was kept unmooring.
it is beginning to feel like the explosion of OTT platforms now sees itself as a mere alternative to the theater as a space, as opposed to the theater as a structured medium, not building on the foundation of it, and not trying to capitalize on the advantages that streaming offers.
Barot House is the story of a family, three daughters, one son, one wife, one husband, one husband’s brother, and one husband’s mother. One of the daughters is found dead in a graveyard, and it is from here that the story begins. Like pawns in an awfully lopsided chess game, characters just fall dead, and much like that game, the film elicits boredom. It is said to be inspired by true events, though I was unable to find any reports of such an incident.
It has an interesting premise, but midway through the film, the mystery feels solved, and every additional twist merely feels like a distraction that doesn’t quite distract. The police force here, as in Dhrusti, is a farce. They operate under the assumption that you are guilty until proven innocent- one stray comment implicates you with murder, a few paintings serve as evidence for you being an architect of massacre.
The beauty of OTT platforms is that you, as a creator, can unshackle yourself from traditional frameworks of genre, flirt with the unexpected, indulge in experiments, and construct your own thresholds. But it is beginning to feel like the explosion of OTT platforms now sees itself as a mere alternative to the theater as a space, as opposed to the theater as a structured medium, not building on the foundation of it, and not trying to capitalize on the advantages that streaming offers.
So here too, grief is expressed by going mad, teacups and saucers are dropped in slow motion. Slow, dramatic shots of the tabla being played is used to imply psychopathy, the movement of the camera implies if the gaze is that of the murderer or us, the viewer, and all the actors are given no more than three expressions to work with, happiness, shock, and despair. It’s awfully generic, and though, the film’s structure does attempt to flirt with the bizarre, unfortunately, the film itself ends up becoming bizarre.