'Gatham' review: An interesting premise let down by poor acting

Psychological thrillers depend heavily on the ability of the actors to play mind games with the audience.
Gatham poster
Gatham poster
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Made by a team of IT professionals and students from the US, Gatham is an interesting attempt at a psychological thriller. Now streaming on Amazon Prime Video, the film opens with an aerial shot of two people who are trying to escape in a desolate, snow-covered landscape (the film was shot in the backdrop of Lake Tahoe in Sierra Nevada, US) and are gunned down.

We then go back in time to unravel the events that led to the opening scene. Rishi (Rakesh Galebhe) wakes up in hospital with no memory of who he is. A woman named Adithi (Poojitha Kurapathi) tells him that she's his girlfriend and the two of them set off. Circumstances land them in the house of a strange man, Arjun (Bhargava Poludasu) and his disturbed son.

Directed by Kiran Reddy, it's obvious that the film aspires to be on the lines of Hollywood thrillers. The characters are minimal, they are not who they seem to be, and the setting is a lonely, unfriendly landscape; there are no distracting songs or unnecessary sentiments stuffed into the screenplay, there are no flashy camera angles and the background score doesn't overplay what's happening.

But while the premise is engaging, the performances fall short. Of the three main actors, Rakesh Galebhe is reasonably convincing. However, the rest of the cast struggles to pull off what is required of them. Psychological thrillers depend heavily on the ability of the actors to play mind games with the audience. Taapsee in Badla, for instance, is just as believable as the nervous young woman as she is as a cold-blooded killer.

The amateurish acting in Gatham, however, keeps dragging the film down, making it difficult to forgive the flaws in the plot. In the second half, especially, as the secrets are revealed and twist after twist becomes apparent, it becomes harder to buy the story.

The dialogues in English seem too studied, even when the characters are cussing. The sense of urgency that the viewer develops when they're invested in the circumstances of the characters they're watching, is absent. Thus, though the runtime is less than 2 hours, the film feels stretched in the last 30 minutes as the screenplay packs in too many 'surprises'.

Gatham is not bad for a team of newbies. With some seasoned performers and a sharper plot with loopholes plugged, this would have been a way better film than what it is now.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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