Ram Gopal Varma’s “Agyaat” is yet another masterpiece from the misunderstood genius, a celluloid circle of Hell that realizes a devilish vision of terror for anyone who dares sit through it.
Like the greats of horror, RGV spins a yarn that works at multiple levels on the psyche of the audience. First there is the terror inherent in the cast, consisting of a number of hyperacting actors with over exaggerated facial expressions, who seem to have wandered off from the sets of a RGV mafia movie (the only other kind of flick he makes nowadays besides horror), acting consistently as if there was Tabasco sauce smeared on their behinds as they wildly gesticulate, snarl and gnash their teeth with the most horrifying performance of the year being given by Ishrat Ali [Lamboo Atta from “Gunda”] whose “Bullah mujhe maat mar mujhe aapna bhadrwa bana le” expression before death was a touch of pure directorial class.
Then there is the heart-pounding suspense of the most original “Aiioo Aioo Rama Ho Gya Hungama” plot of people lost in jungle, a gang of worthies consisting of the standard stereotypes—the asshole superstar, the silent lover, the love-sick hero, the pervert and the unstable as they battle the indomitable “agyaat”, an unknown malignant presence (unknown that is unless you have seen Predator), who keeps dispatching the characters in various innovative ways.
But the true sign of RGV genius is in the subtext of “Agyaat”. Very cleverly, the actual monster is never shown. What instead is focused on is the fear on the faces of the actors as they stab themselves in the chest, smash heads, foam and froth at the mouths and go “Jai Mata di” crazy. It is then that you understand the last layer of “Agyaat”—-the realization that really clutches at your throat. That being that when the characters go postal looking at the camera, the agent of terror they see is not the “Predator” or “Agyaat”.
It is the man in the director’s chair himself.
The real source of all the terror. Orchestrating the mayhem like an agent of doom, whether it be through an opening dream sequence of a skimpily clad Priyanka Kothari (artist formerly known as Nisha Kothari) with muscular hero dancing to the a guttural whisper of “I wanna kiss you day night…cummon cummon saxxxxy lady” or through a song that goes “Bum Bum Bum” in the process laying the context for endless shots of Priyanka Kothari’s different body parts as she exercises in “chota chaddi chota top” (a phrase from movie) and thrusts herself in front of the camera or through terrifying plot devices like letting horny blood-sucking leeches attack the heroine (only the heroine and no one else) so that she may be partially revealed or through “too cool for school” jerky lungy camera movements that snake between branches, leaves and the legs of characters frequently going out-of-focus (but in an artistic way) or through petrifying sound effects like “Boooooooo” “Wooooooooo” RGV displays the supreme control of his faculties that have characterized his movies of late.
And that’s not all. In the spirit of “Grudge” whose message was that real terror follows you home, “Agyaat”‘s horror does not end with the last frame, terrifying as it is in its stated intent. (I intentionally do not say more).
No it does not.
Because one you come back and log in, the spirit of “Agyaat” revisits you as RGV writes an open letter, crossposted on his blog, blasting all those philistine critics (of course some astute critics with a noted taste for high art have praised the movie), with personal barbs thrown in for good measure, who spite him just for his fame driven as they are by an agenda to bring a genius like him down. Of course not that they will succeed because his movie is already a money-maker before its release and he is in any ways most awesome, unlike those nobodies who carp at him. By saying this, he reminds you, in a way in which only he can, of the line in Agyaat where a character says “Kaamiyabi ko kaam se kya matlab”, in the process completing a full arc of terror.