Ramgopal Varma’s Kaun and Taapsee Pannu’s recent outing Game Over have been rare occasions where an Indian filmmaker has attempted a home invasion thriller with reasonable success. The digital space can prove to be an ideal bridge to familiarise a viewer with the genre and Aha’s latest show Locked gives a good shot in getting its specifics right. It’s not a show you may remember for its story or filmmaking finesse but it works for its consistency. It’s committed to staying true to its genre and does not dilute the narrative at any point to pander to a specific audience.
The show predominantly revolves around a doctor Anand (Satyadev), an ambitious neurosurgeon who aims to break new ground in terms of neurological research. One of his students in a medical school, Avinash (Abeeram Verma) is incredibly curious as to how the medico can perform the most complex of brain surgeries with remarkable ease. Two con-women Vaishnavi and Padmini (Samyukta and Sri Lakshmi) who steal from the houses of the elite for a living, land at Anand’s house on a rainy night. Many uninvited guests including Anand’s colleague Misbah (Keshav Deepak), his wife Fatima (Bindu), a cop (Vasu Inturi) turn up at the house the same night – a night that would change everyone’s lives forever.
Locked succeeds in keeping you curious, at least in the initial episodes (after which the interest wanes). Keeping aside the sentimentality associated with the backstories of the con women, it’s a great high for a viewer to watch two badass characters going about their burglaries sans any regret or inhibition. Playing partners-in-crime, Samyukta Hornad and veteran actor Sri Lakshmi (in a delightful comeback role) make for a solid duo with their feistiness and sparkling comic timing. The director keeps the identity of Anand mysterious for a long time – but fails to evoke any surprise when the decisive moment arrives.
Telugu shows, if they aim to scale ahead in terms of quality, need to go a long way in getting their detailing of a subject right. The mumbo jumbo about Dr Anand’s ambition, the creepy methods he adopts to progress with his neuro-research lack any on-screen genuineness. Though the writer-director makes a desperate effort to justify the madness of the protagonist, the least he could have done is to explain what the character’s striving to achieve through his research with more clarity. The details remain hazy at most situations and the director is more interested in establishing the gory side to the thriller.
Much time in the show is wasted with the pointless conversations between Anand, Misbah and the cop. The eeriness in the atmosphere and tension, an integral dimension to any thriller, isn’t sustained well. Had a few subplots cut their indulgences short, Locked could have been way more riveting. It’s the earnest performances from its lead cast that saves the day. Satyadev Kancharana, after a superb digital debut like Gods of Dharmapuri, shoulders the series with assurance and brings a sassiness to his portrayal, contributing to the character’s wickedness and mysterious aura.
Abeeram Verma makes a mark and brings in a right element of urgency to his performance, while Keshav Deepak and Bindu Chandramouli create a reasonable impact with their brief roles. Vasu Inturi’s role as a cop, though impressive, feels wasted in the show. The cinematographer’s sincere efforts to lend a spooky vibe to the visual mood, Prashanth Srinivas’ balanced yet effective background score and K Prathap’s sound design are good examples of the technicians’ efforts to keep the essence of the show intact. Locked is neither completely promising nor painstakingly bad – it hangs somewhere in between.