If someone hurts you, what would you do? Will you confront the person or hurt them back? But what if even that is not enough? Nisam Basheer’s Rorschach is a cinematic tale of the unthinkable lengths a grieving person can go to for revenge. And, when you have the Malayalam megastar Mammootty headlining the fine star cast, the psychological genre-bender thriller is bound to leave you speechless.
“If I tell you about the plot or the character, the suspense will be lost,” Basheer had told The Hindu, before the film’s release. He is right. Every scene and detail is stitched so intricately together that one cannot be mentioned without the other. As Luke Antony, Mammootty dives into the deep end of the psyche of a man with boundless retribution.
As the film begins, Antony can be seen walking on an empty road in the middle of a jungle as it keeps pouring heavily. “My wife is missing,” he says, once he reaches the police station in a remote village in Kerala. The police pay heed and begin the search for the mysterious woman. As the search continues, you wonder if Antony’s wife is real or a figment of his imagination. The answer to this question births the smartly woven plot of the film.
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The Rorschach test
Rorshach happens to be Basheer’s second film after Kettyolaanu Ente Malakha. The one-line story idea came from Sameer Abdul, who has also penned Iblis and Adventures of Omanakuttan. Basheer and Abdul worked for nearly two years to develop the script. When they approached the maverick actor, the latter didn’t just agree to play Antony’s role but came on board as the producer too.
The title of the film derives from a 1921 psychological test, invented by Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach. As part of the test, a person is supposed to describe what they see in 10 inkblots (displayed in shades of black, grey and other colours). The interpretation of the subject is further used to assess personality traits and emotional behavioural patterns.
Much like the mere definition of the test, the first half of Rorschach presents the infinite possibilities and limits to which vengeance can drive a person. As the plot uncovers the root cause, scene after scene, you wonder what would you have done if thrown into that situation. Almost always, your answer would fall short in comparison to Rorschach‘s fictional world. The second half, comprising of the most explosive truth bombs, wavers a little before it matches up to the tight screenplay of the first one.
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Not a one-man show
For the major part of the movie, it is a one-man show with Mammootty beautifully sliding into the psychological tropes of a man with an underlying agenda. But as his fellow cast members enter the screen and the narrative, the film rises to its full potential. In one scene, Bindu Panicker (playing a hapless villager) sits across from a police officer and cries over the death of her son. The sequence of events in that scene is too complex to be described without any context, but, believe me when I say this — in that one scene, Panicker managed to match up to the mighty Mammootty. At the end of it, you are just left feeling bewildered and, almost deceived, wondering what did just happen.
Other members of the cast comprise Grace Antony and Sharaf U Dheen, who pitch in well enough to orchestrate the flawless cinematic symphony.
Whether you love the veteran actor Mammootty or not (who doesn’t?), this film deserves all your attention.
(Edited by Ratan Priya)