Nishabdham Movie Review: Nishabdham, Amazon Prime Video's new offering, is shot simultaneously in three languages - Telugu, Tamil and English, with other languages added later. I saw the supposed mystery thriller with a horror element, in Telugu. But I am pretty sure it is as embarrassing in other languages too, as the one I watched it in. Nishabdham, despite a twisty premise, is as dull as Michael Madsen's drunken swagger in the film. Nishabdham: R Madhavan Feels His Film Releasing on Amazon Prime Video During COVID-19 Pandemic Is a Complete Blessing.
In 1972, an American couple, living in a suburb near Seattle, is killed in the basement of their house by a mysterious entity. As the double homicide is never solved, the house - Woodside Villa - gains the notoriety of being haunted, and it remains abandoned and neglect for years. People believe it to be haunted by the spirit of its former tenant, whose painting lies in the basement.
Circa 2019, the house has been renovated to be a vacation villa and the painting draws a mute-and-deaf orphaned artist Sakshi (Anushka Shetty) and her fiance, Anthony (R Madhavan), a celebrity musician, to the manor. However, something terrible happens in the house in the very same day, that leaves a bruised and battered Sakshi running from the villa and nearly jumping in front of a car.
An Indian cop Maha (Anjali) and her American senior officer, Richard (Michael Madsen) investigate the manor and find a body in the basement. Sakshi claims she was attacked by a demonic force. Knowing the house's history, almost everyone believes it. But is Sakshi telling the truth? Does her missing friend Sonali (Shalini Pandey) has anything to do with what happened in the house?
Watch The Trailer of Nishabdham Below:
Nishabdham or Silence, is directed by Hemant Madhukar, whose last film was in Hindi called Mumbai 125 Km. Starring Veena Malik, it was a horror film that scared us with its cringe. Nishabdham is no different, except for the fact, that it managed to bring two able actors in Anushka Shetty and R Madhavan, and expects their histrionics to save the film from embarrassing itself. There is also Gopi Sundar's music - another saving grace - with his song "Madhuramithe" feeling like a diamond found in a heap of coal.
Nishbdham is also beautiful to look at, thanks to the locales where the film has been shot. However, from the first scene itself, Nishbadham doesn't deviate from being the trainwreck it was meant to be.
Let's talk about the whole mystery first. If you cannot guess what's going on, and why the person was killed, then you clearly haven't been seeing much Telugu films. As the trope goes, there is a tragic backstory to justify what happened and before you know it, the movie gets into the usual cliched revenge territory.
But even a trite storyline can create wonders if engagingly told and deftly handled. Or at least if the performances are better. Unfortunately, Nishabdham crosses no boxes in any of the departments. The direction is pretty average, the writing is kitschy and the editing, jerky. You know it's bad when the film shows a tiger roaming in the forests of Seattle, a fact that any kid learning Geography can point out is not normal.
Nishabdham is so lazy, that we have two characters providing narration at two separate junctures, dumping exposition and explanations. Wonder why filmmakers think that their viewers aren't smart enough to deduce what's going on. Nishabdham has perhaps the dumbest police force seen in celluloid, with both Maha and Richard being at their most inept.
At least Richard has a reason - the most unoriginal one at that - of being a drunk loser. Maha is just inefficient. Like, at one point, she claims she has questioned everyone about the murder, but she has to be reminded that she needs to check the only one person present at the crime scene - Sakshi. In another scene, she chases after an unseen assailant who arrives at Sakshi's house in the night, but fails to recognise him the next day, when he arrives in the very same clothes! And you thought UP police was the worst?
What's even more annoying is that the first half, that focuses on the investigations, takes away the attention from Sakshi - the only interesting character, with a beautiful Anushka giving the only decent performance in the film. The one scene I loved in the film is when Sakshi goes for one of Anthony's concerts, and she enjoys his music by feeling the vibrations on the wall. It was a lovely scene that feel like an aberration in the whole movie. Adipurush: Alia Bhatt, Anushka Shetty or Keerthy Suresh - Who Would You Like to See in Prabhas' Next with Om Raut?
Sure, Anushka is. more or less. the focus in the second half, but, by that time, Nishadham also already entered some very familiar territory. The pacing and writing have both gone for a toss, and by the time the 'shocking' reveal arrives, you wonder how the makers managed to convince the actors to agree for this film.
I am, especially curious to know how they convinced Michael Madsen, known for his performances in Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill, to act as if he is aping Tommy Wiseau in The Room. The actor's performance is so drowsy, that he really needs to steer away from NCB or they will haul him next for their ongoing investigations. This could be the worst performance in Indian Cinema's short history of cluelessness in how to deal with Hollywood cameos. Even worse than Sylvester Stallone in Kambakht Ishq.
Even the usually dependable R Madhavan gives a very okayish performance here, not helped by the fact that his character doesn't get much scope, save in the third act. Anjali's act has a lot of blunt edges. Shalini Pandey is okay, though her character of that of a possessive girlfriend is very irksome. Subbaraju is average.
- Anushka Shetty
- The Locales and Gopi Sunder's Music
- Utter Nishabdham About Bad The Rest Is!
The only thing scary about Nishabdham is how bad a film it turns out to be. Replete with atrocious performances, lazy writing and lacklustre direction, this mystery thriller should come with the tag - Watch it at your own risk! Nishabdham is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.