Cast: Shivaji, Charmme, Kousha, Chitram Srinu, Jeeva, Vijay and Others. Art: DY Satyanarayana. Cinematography: Sivendra. Editing: Upendra. Music: Anand. Story & Screenplay: Ravi Prakash. Direction: Tulasiram. Producer: Kalyanram. Co-Producer: Uma Prakash. Presenter: Ravi Prakash. Nirmana Saradhyam: Soma Vijaya Prakash. Banner: Gen'next Movies. Release Date: 14th December, 2007.
'Osho' Tulasiram is the debutant director of Mantra. Why he calls himself Osho is not important; whether Mantra lived up to its expectations is the vital point. Mantra has all the elements of a thriller, and even components of a supernatural thriller. Sudden loud noises, background score that picks up the volume as the camera approaches it's target, a supposedly haunted house amongst other things. Logically, there some loose ends to the subplots. But Mantra does thrill, though it does not scare (which might not be the target, to be fair). It thrills not because of the loud noises or the dark shadows, but because you keep guessing and end up at red herrings.
Plot Mantra is the orphaned owner of Mantra Nilayam, which she wants to sell in order to pay off her father's debts. The previous owners of the farmhouse have died under mysterious circumstances, and there is a rumor that the house is haunted. A potential buyer sets a condition-to get someone to stay there for a while before he buys it. Hero comes to threaten Mantra to pay up her debts, and when he gets wind of the situation, he offers to stay there for a commission. He and his friends go there, but the sinister mood prevails.
Movie It's difficult to make a thriller without people pointing out logic bloopers every second scene. Overall, the suspense is well-maintained. The camerawork is good, especially in the tricky night sequences. The dialogues are crisp and to the point, with Shivaji and co. bagging the comic lines. Editing by debutant Upendra is good, as essential as the direction in a suspense flick. The movie runs into a cliché with those sudden sounds, dark shadows and the works. The movie is technically satisfactory, and the narration is gripping in parts. Charmme and Shivaji dominate the screen time. Along with them, Chitram Seenu as a brave sort and Vijay as a cowardly character give convincing performances. Jeeva has good timing with Shivaji.
Jaldi Five 1. First half has all the elements of a good thriller. There is ample suspense, a sprinkling of humor, character establishment (the protagonists).
2. The four guys staying at the house is done well. The foursome did a good job too, and has well written characters.
3. Charmme's work in a couple of the scenes, both in the first half and the climax is very good.
4. In the first half, Chitram Seenu's character spruce up the goings-on while with Jeeva's entry, the second half picks up pace. There is a scene where Charmme and Jeeva mistake each other for a ghost-that scene could have been more comic though.
5. Shivaji actually gets more screen time, and has a tailor-made character. A little more energy and a bit of grooming, and this outsider can actually go places.
Fishy Four 1. Hero calls Manikyam to a Pan Dabba in the middle of the night, but he provides him some info and leaves. He called him for that??
2. Mantra sitting in the swimming pool and talking to Hero-that sequence looks silly and unconvincing.
3. There seems to be absolutely no police inquiry into the deaths of the inmates of the house.
4. Munu Swami's track has several bloopers. No one frames a photograph with a third person with a couple, as is found in the house. The connection between them is established for nothing.
Music The background and camera work together to scare, and succeed very little. The first half has a reasonably decent score starting from the titles, while somebody turned up the volume in the second half. The songs-'Oohallona' is hummable. 'Maha' is of course a direct lift from 'My Humps' (and if the Black Eyed Peas ever get wind of their Telugu version..) and a drums instrumental in the second half is lifted from James Asher's 'Feet In The Soil'.
Last Word To pick such a genre for a debut, one needs G.U.T.S. Osho T obviously has that, and is someone to watch out for. He and his team have given a decent first flick, and the feel of the thriller has been brought out well. No great shakes, with a slightly disappointing second half followed by a insipid climax, but a good one-time watch nonetheless. This Mantra works moderately.