Boomika, Rathindran R Prasad’s newest horror film, is a trophy affair with a haunted bungalow, a young family, a screaming woman, a casual assistant, and capitalist greed. It contains everything you’d expect from a horror picture, including strict adherence to the beats to the point that you can predict what’s going to happen next by the second.
Boomika tells the narrative of a young couple, Samyuktha (Aishwarya Rajesh), Gautham (Vidhu), and their son Siddhu, who relocate to an abandoned school building to construct a residential complex and profiting from it. Gayathri (Surya Ganapathy), Gautham’s sister Aditi (Madhuri), and assistant Dharman are also among those who join them (Pavel Navageethan). Strange things start to happen as the sunsets. The rest of the film revolves with why they do so and how the family escapes.
Rathindran R Prasad, the writer, and director take a textbook approach to the monster in the home’ genre. The first act is packed with cliches, such as a phone that operates without a signal or a battery. Then there’s a ghost that can only be seen in a photograph, a lady who can’t stop screaming, and so on. The music of Prithvi Chandrashekar merely adds to the clichés. There is so little to contribute or surprise these clichés that the picture fails to elicit a feeling of terror.
The lines in this film seem so manufactured. The authors go out of their way to provide the spectator with as much information as possible. Gayathri swears in astonishment at the trees that surround the colonial property on the way from the airport — “I highly urge we just work on the structures and not damage the landscapes,” she adds. Gautham, on the other hand, intends to accomplish the exact opposite. Will a famous architect go halfway around the world without even understanding what the project’s goal is? Even if it’s for a close relative?
If the genre components are not executed well, the social issues sound jumbled. Samyukta, a counseling psychologist, chastises a mother of a kid with a psychiatric illness in her introduction. “Ungalukku than counseling kudukkanum,” she shouts as if to remind us that it is the neurotypicals who need to be taught about neurodiversity.
However, she does not appear to apply this to her own life. She soon regrets the absence of grandparents as a probable reason for her child’s handicap. Her parents, she suggests, are caste supremacists who would reject her choices. Are such grandparents beneficial to children? Worryingly, Gayathri indicates that money dissolves caste barriers. “That’s why Gautham choose this project,” Samyuktha concurs. In what parallel universe is this true?
When the flashback begins, the picture is meant to make sense and come together. Instead, it becomes sanctimonious. It’s told in a series of purposeful scenes with an awkward newspaper column voiceover. Boomika dislikes polyester. Boomika dislikes it when others move her belongings. Boomika’s canvas is endless. We don’t comprehend Boomika as a person. She is nothing more than a metaphor.
That’s why Prasad thinks it’s vital to inform the audience of this through conversation. “Don’t you know who Bhoomika is? “It’s the planet, you fools,” insists Dharman, a conveniently positioned tribal guy who fights for the environment. It doesn’t help that Pavel Navageethan plays a part in a caricature-like manner. The film is so preoccupied with its message that it doesn’t trust the audience to grasp the metaphors and references.
That is not to suggest that there aren’t some fascinating moments. Boomika walks to the tree with her father, who insists on learning biology, in one scene. He reads a text on the Paleozoic Era’s life explosion/implosion. Boomika doesn’t appear to be listening at all. Instead of engaging in joyful play with the colorful squirrels who put on a show for her. When asked to repeat anything, she does it word for word. Maybe the earth remembers. Prasanna Balachandran, who plays Boomika’s father, is fantastic in these roles.
Boomika, once all is said and done, is a lukewarm picture that elicits neither terror nor emotion. We don’t get the joy of being terrified to death, nor do we depart to become more sustainable. Aishwarya Rajesh is also completely squandered, adding fuel to the flames.
Boomika is streaming on Netflix.