Cast: Tamannaah, Kaali Venkat, Munishkanth, Sathyan, TSK, Yogi Babu, Prem, KSG Venkatesh and others
Cinematography: Dani Raymond
Editor:Leo John Paul
Rating: 3 stars
Director Rohin Venkatesan’s Petromax is a horror comedy that is enjoyable for the most part. The film, a remake of the Telugu hit film Anando Brahma, retains in essence the spirit of the original.
The film begins with Prem looking frantically for his mother even as reports of flood waters inundating the Wayanad region comes in. He is shattered to know that she has died in the Kerala floods. Her death makes him decide that he can no longer return to their palatial home that is on the outskirts of the city. He therefore asks a friend to help him sell it off as he wishes to return to Malaysia where he now lives.
The friend agrees and arranges for a prospective buyer to take a look at the residential structure. However, the buyers flee the place as they realise that the place is haunted.
The friend and his partner, a bar owner (Mime Gopi), look to capitalise on this unexpected stroke of luck. They realise that if no buyer comes forward to buy the building, Prem will have no other option but to sell it off for a pittance to them. They know that they can then make a fortune by razing the existing structure and then building a multi-storeyed apartment on the land.
Their plan seems to be working when suddenly, a waiter (Munishkanth) in Mime Gopi’s bar decides to help Prem in the hope of getting a commission. He points out to Prem that if he can get four people to stay in the haunted house for a couple of days, people will start believing that the house is not haunted and that he will then be able to find a good buyer.
Prem likes this plan and promises a hefty commission to Munishkanth if he can get four guys to stay in the haunted house for three days.
Desperate for money, Munishkanth finds three other people like him to undertake the task. What happens then is what the film is about.
The first half of the film is slow and not that funny. In fact, there are even places where you think you know what is going to happen and therefore almost lose interest. However, once the second half begins, the film really comes into its elements. The comedians really pull up their socks and make it a very entertaining affair.
Munishkanth, Kaali Venkat, Sathyan and TSK, who play the four guys who stay at the haunted place for money, do a brilliant job of lifting the film from generating boredom to entertainment.
Each of these people has a peculiar problem and strangely, it is their problem that keeps them safe during their stay at the haunted house.
For instance, Kaali Venkat is an alcoholic, who cannot do without a drink after 9 pm. So, once he gets drunk, he has no idea of what happens around him. His interactions with the spirits when he is drunk are downright hilarious.
TSK, an aspiring actor, loves to role play. Once he gets into playing a role, there is no stopping him. The way he handles spirits with his acting is just phenomenal.
Sathyan has night blindness and what’s more, he also cannot hear without his hearing aid. Everytime Sathyan feels scared, he cooly removes his hearing aid so as to not get rattled. The move is just funny and cute.
These four comedians by themselves do an outstanding job. To add to this, the cast also has Yogi Babu making an entry as a spirit in the second half to scare the four guys out. Instead of scaring the four, he gets freaked out when he knows that there are real spirits already in there. The combination scenes between all the comedy actors are just hilarious and leave you roaring with laughter.
The film also has a bit of family sentiment and a little bit of drama that stress on family values and bonding. Together, the film provides great entertainment.
Tamannaah might have played the lead in the film but it is the work of the comedians that saves the day for the film. It is their work that makes this film an enjoyable fare.
This is not to say that Tamannaah has done a bad job. She has played her part. She looks graceful as the adopted daughter of an aged couple and delivers what is expected of her convincingly.
The film’s strong technical crew is one reason why it has managed to emerge a winner. Music director Ghibran and editor Leo John Paul seem to have contributed immensely to this film. Ghibran’s background score is what adds to the fear factor in the film. If there are scenes that genuinely scare you, it is also because of Ghibran’s music.
Leo John Paul seems to have known how exactly to use Ghibran’s music to make the impact of the scenes better. Apparently, he first listened to Ghibran’s background score and then went back and tweaked the scenes accordingly to make the impact even better. Both seemed to have worked in tandem and their combined effort really gives the film a big edge.
Cinematographer Dani Raymond too needs to be complimented for his visuals that are not gloomy and depressing. Although Petromax is a horror film, the lighting is such that it is not too dark to make you feel depressed and too light to kill any fear that you may feel. It is scary but at the same time very pleasant to watch — a difficult combination to achieve. Dani Raymond manages to light the sets in such a way that the fear is because of the developments and not because of gory visuals.
Rohin Venkatesan seems to have marshalled his resources both on the technical side and on the acting side well to deliver this immensely enjoyable family entertainer.
Do we need to still spell it out? This one is worth watching!