Movie Review: Kshanam (Telugu)

As far as puzzlers in Indian cinema go, Kshanam comes as a whiff of fresh air. A relentless and deftly concocted mystery that sucks you in from the get-go, leaving no time to pause and think. But as all thriller aficionados would know, sustaining this sort of dramatic tension from start to finish is no mean feat, but thanks to its urgent background score, taut screenplay and crisp editing, Kshanam easily fares a cut above the rest.

Thus what begins with an assault of a mother and the ensuing kidnap of her young daughter steadily escalates into something unpredictable, something endlessly exciting. For nothing is what it seems, and in the two months that have elapsed since then, the cops have closed the case citing lack of evidence, with everyone around her hellbent on proving her otherwise despite her vehement protestations, adding to her frustrations and driving her crazy.

Defeated and desperate, she seeks out her ex-boyfriend for help, who, as reluctant as he is to reenter her life, is plagued by dozens of questions once he starts digging around - Why him after all these years? Is she telling the truth? Or is she mentally unstable as her husband claims? Is it a all a big conspiracy? Or does the daughter even exist?

Written by Adivi Sesh and directed by Ravikanth Perepu, the tense, nail-biting psychological thriller keeps you on the tenterhooks even as it expands in scope and introduces new players who may or may not have a role in the girl's supposed disappearance. The twists are smartly executed too (although I wish the loose ends were tied up a little better), accentuating the suspense further, and as the final pieces of the mystery click into place, we get a thrilling payoff that's both surprising and satisfying. Highly recommended!