Movie Rated: 16+
Genre: Suspense, Thriller
One’s never too old to not enjoy time-tested storylines provided they’re reimagined in a newer dimension, reminds ZEE5’s latest original Ateet. Not all love triangles need to be dipped in a sugary syrup to be savoured - this one takes a supernatural turn. Two best friends in the same profession (army) turn foes eyeing the same girl. Only one of the two survive and get to live with her and father the child. It all seems a hunky-dory setting until the third wheel in the relationship returns! Ateet hinges on an old-fashioned premise, but that isn’t its problem. The storytelling is dull, all over the place and the director struggles to balance its dramatic and horror trope sans any emotion.
Army man Vishwa and Jahnvi appear to be a happy couple, living with their daughter Sanah in a sleepy town, though you discover soon that the former always has trust issues with his wife. Jahnvi’s past is the basis of all concerns for Vishwa and the troubled relationship with the young daughter doesn’t help their cause. It takes the miraculous entry of Ateet, a soldier who was believed to have died in a battle, to tap the darker corners of Vishwa’s mind. A bunch of spooky experiences and a sudden death later, life refuses to be the same for Jahnvi.
It’s a shame that a story with an immense scope to be a dark drama could prove to be a frivolous exercise as a viewing experience. The story certainly has all the bases covered but none of its backstories is established with any clarity to invest in the characters. The most crucial aspects of the narrative – the friendship between Vishwa and Jahnvi, the cause for their tension and the reason why Jahnvi fell for Vishwa after the mysterious death of her partner – are explained through verbose dialogues with zilch impact (they could have been short, effective flashbacks at least).
The horror tropes are way too archaic and basic – it almost felt like the child actor wore a pair of roller skates every time the director wanted to add a few jumpscares. The supposed twist doesn’t hit you like a jolt at all. The writing doesn’t stay true to the drama or the horror genre specifics (which is okay), but there’s nothing strikingly original on offer either. The background score is surprisingly atmospheric and the songs don’t disappoint either. However, if you manage to sit through Ateet, it’s because of its versatile lead cast.
Priyamani, after The Family Man, gets a rare chance to anchor a Hindi film and she appears to be in control of this space. She’s confident with her Hindi, composed in the need of the hour, doesn’t oversell her dramatic portions and is charming in the lighter segments. Sanjay Suri gets the better (if not a well-fleshed out) role though and the actor relishes the edginess in his characterisation with a balanced yet stylised portrayal. Rajeev Khandelwal lends an element of mystery to his act whenever he appears on the screen – it’s a job well done but it’s a shortlived appearance that doesn’t do justice to his potential.
Dugad isn’t the childish caricature you witness in every alternative film – here’s an assured, young performer who understands the visual medium well. Vipin Sharma and Neha Bam come up with solid supporting acts that add value to the film. On the whole, Ateet is way too leisurely paced for the thrills it wishes to create. It sparkles only intermittently, the situations are too vague and the flashback episodes aren’t structured too well either. Though there’s authenticity in the army backdrop, the visuals don’t do much to add any newer layer to the experience.