Athidhi: Venu Thottempudi’s Web Series Is A Ghost Story With A Message

Director Bharath YG takes the familiar template of a big mansion with scary elements to explore the negative shades in human beings.

The film industry across the languages has a fascination for horror/thriller stories. Periodically, one director or the other has revisited this genre.

Ram Gopala Varma was successful in delivering some genuinely scary films like Urmila Matondkar’s Bhoot (2003).

In the recent past, Amar Kaushik was successful in reinventing the genre with his film Stree (2018). In Stree, the director used the popular legend of “O Stree Kal Aana” (Oh woman, visit tomorrow) and gave it a feministic touch.

On the other hand, directors like Rohit Shetty and Anees Bazmee have made popcorn entertainers with elements of horror.

Now, director Bharath YG takes the familiar template of a big mansion with scary elements in this web series to explore the negative shades in human beings. The shades include lust, anger, and greed.

But the jump scares are presented in a very clichéd manner. It is high time that filmmakers do away with such clichéd elements for scaring the audiences.

Synopsis

Athidhi — now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar — marks Venu Thottempudi’s debut in the OTT space.

Ravi (Venu Thottempudi) is introduced as a writer, who is living with his paralysed wife Sandhya (Aditi Gautam). He is trying to reinvent himself as a writer.

At this point, a mysterious woman Maya (Avantika Mishra) and a Youtuber Savari (Venkatesh Kakumanu), take shelter in his house. Savari makes videos on the non-existence of ghosts.

There is also a cop called Prakash (Ravi Varma). None of these characters are what they appear on the surface. They have secrets of their own. Revealing anything more will not be appropriate.

Positives

One of the things that stands out in Athidhi is the technical department.

Special mention must be made of Kapil Kumar’s background score and Manoj Katasani’s cinematography.

The background music definitely enhances the key scenes.

Manoj Katasani successfully captures the show’s eeriness through his lens.

The most impressive twist is the flashback regarding the ghost. Through it, Bharath YG raises some pertinent points about greed and jealousy.

There is also an underlying message — too much greed will lead to disastrous consequences.

The ghost is presented as a messenger of God to teach this lesson to humans.

Performances

The performances in Athidhi are a mixed bag.

Venu Thottempudi is someone who is mostly associated with comic romantic roles. But here, the actor ventures out of his comfort zone. He pulls off an impressive act, particularly in the key emotional scenes.

The next good performance comes from Avanthika Mishra. Her character has quite a few layers and the actress does a good job.

But Venkatesh Kakumanu overacts as a YouTuber. Instead of feeling sorry for Savari, viewers feel irritated whenever he is on screen.

Aditi Gautam as the wife suffers on account of a half-baked characterisation.

Final take

Athidhi is not an entirely satisfying ride but the show has its moments.

(Views expressed here are personal.)

https://youtu.be/Iuj9k14SHnU

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