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Barot House is chilling if you stop disbelieving

THE ASIAN AGE. | SUBHASH K JHA
Published : Sep 8, 2019, 12:38 am IST
Updated : Sep 8, 2019, 12:38 am IST

This film with predictable twists and plots, is about a juvenile psychopathic serial killer.

A still from the film Barot House
 A still from the film Barot House
Rating:

Barot House (Zee5 OTT)
Starring Amit Sadh, Manjari Phadnis, Aaryan Menghji
Directed by Bugs Bhargava

As  a parable on violence and crime, Barot House seems  too  unambitious to be markedly effective.  But there  is a certain amount of shock value  in the plot, as  one of its central characters is a juvenile psychopathic serial killer.

Writer Sanjeev K Jha who wrote  Jabariya Jodi which opened to mixed responses last week, makes use  of the  horror-supernatural genre to bring into focus  an undeveloped theme. That  of severe juvenile delinquency.

What does  a  young father   of  four kids do when he  suddenly discovers that his only 9-year son Malhar has been bumping off his little  sisters one after another? Should Amit(Sadh) call the cops to take  away  their  only remaining progeny? Or should he make the  sinister boy understand that  head-hunting is not for kids, so why don’t  you go out and play with kids?

In Barot House  the stakes  are  never simple. For  a good part of this  bad-karma  plot the  camera  wobbles and  shakes its way through a series  of half-baked episodes  rounding  up  the suspects with  a twist  in  the second-half that I  am  afraid  I saw coming. The suspects I might add, are hardly guilt-driven. One of them is a neighbour with no seeming grudge except a  dog that died  mysteriously.

In Barot House the absurdities  abound. And  yet there is a  tantalising tendency to  suck us into the world of this  doomed family where the  scion is a serial assassin.

Amit Sadh , one  of  our most  underutilized actors, pulls  out all stops to play a man who rapidly loses hope of  a normal   family wife. He  portrays  a confused  man toppling over   the  brink with  frightening clarity. Manjari Fadnis has some  meaty  scenes  where she has to  depict  the bereaved mother’s grief. She does it well. But   like most of  the other emotions in  the  film, her grief remains disconnected  from the  grisly goings-on in her own  house.

I am afraid—very afraid—that the  child actor Aaryan Mengji who plays the cold-blooded  serial killer, is the scene stealer of  this  supposedly steely but ultimately  plastic thriller. Aaryan with his  curly  hair and  fanatical  beats on the Tabla(which earn him the nickname ‘Zakir’  from the  other characters)  and his sly diabolic  evil smirk, is chilling to the  bones.  He could be the devil’s avatar. Mercifully the plot avoids the supernatural angle. Its  biggest draw is its ability to seek the  scary in a normal  household.

Aaryan’s performance  helps fill up the  black spaces in the screenplay. The Barot family’s predicament  never attains  the immediacy and urgency  it should have, The very thought of  three daughters being bumped  off by their own brother is  nerve wracking.  And yet I never felt the chilling vibes I  should have.

The 90-minute  film is shot in  plot-friendly locations. But the  images and  visuals are more  often  tacky then eerie.The supporting cast is clearly  out of its depth. The empathy of the  cop on duty and later  the remand-home official is  handicapped  not so much by the  devious mind  of  the  young killer  as by the  rather  sloppy treatment of a subject that had the potential to be  India’s The Delinquents.

Let  alone reach the dark peaks  of Robert Altman’s great classic Barot House struggles with budgetary  constraints and limitations  of  the imagination. Both  deficiencies  clearly show up in  the endproduct.

Tags: amit sadh, barot house