Ram Gopal Varma, master at garnering publicity, positive or negative for everything he does, has managed to raise enough interest in this project too. The “Fear is Hot” caption, the use of Flowcam technology, the news of lead actress Tejaswi going nude for a scene in the movie…Telugu audience were once again ready to lick Varma’s hands!
Horror is not a new genre to Varma, but combining horror and sex/ romance is a first time for him. Horror and sex have been natural allies in films of the genre from long. Let’s see how Varma, and his new technology fared in this venture.
Renu’s (Tejaswi) parents have gone out of town for a marriage, leaving her alone in a big house they have come to live in quite recently. Renu is a medico and has stayed back to prepare for exams. Renu has boyfriend Vishal (Navdeep) for company most of the time, but he needs to go out to see his relative who is not well and in an ICU ward of a hospital. What happens to Renu who has an acute imagination in this big, lonely house is what the story is all about. The events of the story are pushed forward early in the beginning with Vishal breaking a talisman like Chinese sculpture despite Renu’s protests. Since then, Renu sees the apparition of a very old woman, doors being banged, a tap that never completely stops running, an odd looking maid servant and her pee-a-boo playing brother, another odd ball plumber, combine to establish that the house is haunted and something sinister is soon to happen with prankster Vishal himself adding bits to the proceedings. Is the house really haunted, or is it entirely Renu’s over active imagination? What will be the final outcome of these strange events forms the conclusion of the story.
The Flowcam kicks in right at the beginning, as has been explained by Varma himself in an interview, Flowcam is not exactly a technology but a way of filming that is combined by sound effects, again called Flowsound by Varma. The movement of the camera really ups the tempo of the visuals in the beginning. There is no discomfort in viewing the visuals though there is definitely nothing regular in them The Camera is as if being handheld by a person all the time. The sound effects are somewhat over blown and begin too early for the comfort of the viewer who is yet to soak in the atmosphere, characters of the story.
Tejaswi’s innocent looks suit the character she portrays, but she is hardly given a chance to emote as the camera is mostly focussed on her body than her face. For Navdeep, the character might have been a cakewalk, except towards the climax where he too faces the “Deyyaalu.” Other actors adequately serve their purpose.
The first half of the film succeeds somewhat as a good stage is set up for more sinister things to come. But they never come moreover; the events of the second half are repeated again rendering proceedings boring. Somewhere during the events “Ice Cream” is blamed for all hallucinations Tejaswi is suffering. But the correlation is not built upon either before the declaration or after it. There are hardly any dialogs in the film, except towards the climax, when Navdeep tells Tejaswi that everything she is watching could be a lie. Bit later Tejaswi promises that she will not believe anything, any person henceforth. But the actual climax does not refer to both these points. Tejaswi surprises Navdeep and the audience by her final action but there is no basis for it, the viewer is not offered any clues, nor there is any explanation given to what Navdeep experiences before the climax. Tejaswi might be hallucinating, but Navdeep was not! There are some much repeated, redundant sequences in the second half – the bed sheet pulled from the sleeping girl, the possessed girl rising in air, dead persons shown with ashen faces etc.
Finally, the film gives no intelligent engagement to the viewer. In fact, the viewer is given half baked, incomplete theories that undermine the value given to the filmmaker, ad campaign by coming to the theatres. The much touted nude scene of Tejaswi is a non sequitur. The Flowcam though, looks like a good weapon that could be used again by discerning filmmakers.
Finally, Ram Gopal Varma has succeeded in fooling the audience again! This “Ice Cream” is neither hot nor cold!
Rating: 1.5 out of 5