The most curious aspect of Sadhuram 2 is the numeral in the title, which makes you wonder about Sadhuram 1. But that film is yet to be made. We are, thus, in the realm of Limca Records. Along with astonishing Indian feats like longest ear hair and fastest sentence typed by the nose, we now have the sequel to a film that does not exist. Or maybe it does. For director Sumanth Radhakrishnan has been unequivocal about the debt his film owes to James Wan’s Saw. You may remember that charming film, which featured, among other highlights, a man hacking off his foot. Or what a young David Fincher would have called Biology class.
Sadhuram 2 is a fairly faithful remake. Two men – a doctor (Yog Japee), a photographer (Riaz) – find themselves chained to the floor of a little room painted and lit in colours that, on a shade card, would be called Algae Green and Post-Antibiotics-Urine Yellow. That rumble you hear isn’t the soundtrack. It’s your stomach getting ready to hurl. But the film isn’t pukey enough. It’s been made palatable for Indian audiences – though, thankfully, not with dream duets and a falling-in-love track. (And the running time is a brisk 94 minutes.) But in order to procure a UA rating, the gore has been vitiated. If Saw was torture porn, Sadhuram 2 is an item number. What fun is it, pray, when you get a hacking-off-a-foot scene without the blade sinking into flesh and bone and unloosing torrents of blood? It’s like a Disney movie where the cute animal sidekick has been blurred.
The back-and-forth story slowly pieces together clues and reveals why – and by whom – these men are being held captive. Cinematographer Sathish Babu does good work. There’s a tonal consistency that you rarely find in these micro-budgeted films. But despite Girishh Gopalakrishnan’s throbbing score, which allows you to experience the sensation of being trapped in the bass drum at a Megadeth performance, there is little forward momentum. Scenes exist on their own – they don’t build into a sustained queasy-making experience. The dialogues are terribly expository, and the performers appear to have trained in the Smoke Signals School of Acting. They seem to be trying to catch the attention of people on a distant hill. Also, is there no genre the Tamil filmmaker can free from moralising? We walk in for severed limbs. We walk out with sermons.
- sadhuram = square
- Saw = see here
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