Bhram (2019) Indian Web Series Review

Bhram is a psychological horror/thriller wherein the protagonist suffers from PTSD and traverses all kinds of extremes (paranormal, mythical, psychological) in order to unearth a long-forgotten truth. The twisted forgotten past reveals new truths and changes everything.

Plot

Based on K Hari Kumar?s book ?The Wrong Side of Her?, the series revolves around a romance novelist Alisha Khanna (Kalki Koechlin) who suffers from PTSD post the death of her husband Yash Khanna (Omkar Kapoor). Her sister Ankita Puri ((Bhumika Chawla) and her husband Peter Paul (Sanjay Suri), asks her to come over their beautiful house is Shimla for a change and rejuvenation. Haunted by her past and PTSD after effects Alisha enters the picturesque house of her sister. Soon Alisha starts seeing mysterious people and the fear of the unknown starts holding her to the brim. Rest is how Alisha travels through her trauma, a 20 year old horrifying past, searches he existence in the fact and fiction as she encounters various characters from a police inspector Rawat (Chandan Roy Sanyal), Peter?s friend and business partner Pradeep (Eijaz Khan ), Father Alfred (Satyadeep Mishra), death of a teenage girl Ayesha (Anjali Tatrari), Avtar (Vikram Kochar) and the lord of the jungle Ukara.

My Personal Thoughts

A picturesque psychological horror thriller that benefits from the vulnerably luminous Kalki Koechlin and Sangeeth Sivan?s ?possession? with the tested and trusted scare techniques. Accelerating the eerie gravity as desired from the haunted genre with an exploration of mourning and survivor’s guilt taking a decisive philosophical and psychological turns.

Sangeeth Sivan?s BHRAM ?Clicks? as it stays loyal to the rule of eye popping location and jaw dropping situations. BHRAM is better from his previous attempt in the haunted genre ? CLICK the 2010 horror starring Shreyas Talpade, CLICK was the remake of 2007 Tamil movie SIVI which in itself a remake of 2004 Thai horror film SHUTTER.

Mumbai: Actors Sanjay Suri, Kalki Koechlin and Eijaz Khan during the promotions of their upcoming web series “Bhram” in Mumbai on Oct 22, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

Ruled by Kalki Koechlin?s terrific performance BHRAM is boosted by refined and natural acts by Bhumika Chawla, Sanjay Suri, Eijaz Khan, Anjali Rawat, Chandan Roy Sanyal Satyadeep Mishra and Vikram Kocchar. Omkar Kapoor and Raj Zutshi also chip in with valuable support.

The background score by Kingshunk Chakravarty, Mahesh Sridhar production design, Shaju Chandran and Pratik Chitalia?s editing and Vidushi Tiwari, Suman Sahu and Sandeep Yadav?s cinematography blends nicely with the mysterious air that smartly mixes the Hitchkokian suspense with Shyamlan?s fear of the known/unknown.

Flaws

All the tension and the conflict get seriously threatened by a delicate disclosure that makes the audience feel wanted instead of haunted. The not so satisfying closure and the unwanted ?exposure? – the escapades of Chandan Roy Sanyal is added just for providing titillation that has no direct connection with the plot. Why a psychological horror thriller should come in episodes and not as a short movie is a mystery that the makers can only answer.

Performances

If there’s someone who brings believability to the series and its sometimes-wayward narrative, it is Kalki Koechlin. Her performance conveys the sense of confusion in her while differentiating between illusion and reality. She brings an innate sincerity to the role and makes sure that you invest in the plot. However, the characterization could have explored more of her dimension as a novelist. Bhumika Chawla’s role is more of a supporting hand to the protagonist. Though the part may not do justice to her potential, she brings believability to her act. Sanjay Suri, Ejaz Khan, Satyadeep Mishra get interesting roles with the shades of grey, to which they do justice. Vikram Kocchar is a surprise choice for the role he gets to essay (not revealed, in an attempt to avoid spoilers) and he presents an unknown intense side to his repertoire, which he is quite convincing. Chandan Roy Sanyal and Omkar Kapoor have very little to do though. The younger actors playing the college students in the subplots are convincing in their brief portions.

Analysis

Bhram starts as a vague thriller with a hazy plot and only comes into its element gradually. The first few episodes struggle to convey anything concrete and just before you give up hope, there’s considerable progress in the storytelling. As a novel/script, Bhram could have been a page-turner with an interesting mix of psychology, crime, and folklore. While translating onto the visual medium though, the blend isn’t quite seamless. There are intermittent flashes of brilliance but the sequences don’t quite add up the way you expect it to. There’s a parallel narrative of a two-decade-old love story gone sour that’s eerily similar to a present-day incident. Alisha firmly believes that she knows something that connects the two incidents. Her psychological issues become a roadblock to her path and suddenly, she is a prime suspect in an investigation about a series of murders in the town. The conflict is interesting but none of the subplots is affecting. The non-linear narrative contributes to the confusion. The viewer remains as confused as the protagonist about the difference between Alisha’s illusions and reality. Several sequences appear vaguely stitched together without much coherence.

What works is the suspense element towards the end though. The three potential antagonist-suspects of the 20-year-old incident are eliminated one after the other and the build-up towards the finale is intriguing. The characterization of a man who dons an animalistic avatar a.l.a mythological figure to protect the forest from supposed wrong-doers is indeed fascinating. However, this isn’t explored with enough clarity. Though the material in the hands of the makers is imaginative, the execution is choppy. The thread about the raunchy personal life of the cop is a total waste of time in the bargain for a few sexual thrills. A smarter, crispier screenplay could have saved the day for Bhram. Sangeeth Sivan, the director, is as usual very original with his idea. He had the potential to make it a consistently engaging series but only manages to craft a modest outing that doesn’t rise beyond the surface. The credible performances are somewhat of a resurrection act.

Music and Other Departments

Technician contribution-wise, there’s little to complain about Bhram. The theme song is mysterious and captivating, so is its edgy background score lending enough tension and vigour to the narrative. Vidushi Tiwari as a cinematographer is quite good at her job while capturing the enigma of the landscapes beneath their visual beauty. The writing is generally neat, but it’s the ambiguous narration where the series suffers the most.

Final words

Zee5 BHRAM has jaw dropping moments of scare with eye popping visuals that has snaky turns on love, compassion, guilt and redemption.

Bhram was a disappointing Horror Web Series from my side. I dont know why always most of time Indian horror genre fails . And all the time same old stories and adult scenes. Indian Horror cinema should focus on more new story and try different thing etc.

I will rate this Web Series 3/10.

GenreHorror
Story byMK Hari Kumar
Directed byAmit Bathija
Bhramabhatt
Deeksha Rana
Sangeeth Sivan
StarringKalki Koechlin
Sanjay Suri
Bhumika Chawla
Music byJustin Yesudas
Country of originIndia
Original language(s)Hindi
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes8
Production
Executive producer(s)Lucky Sharma
Camera setupVidushi Tiwari
Akhil Sasidharan
Release
Original networkZee5
Original release18 September 2019 –
present
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