Ram Gopal Varma thinks differently. This time too the maverick film-maker defies the stereotype and takes to the dense forests of Sri Lanka to meet an 'unknown' force. But let's clear the misconception at the very start. Agyaat is no supernatural thriller [like Phoonk] or a horror fest [like Bhoot]. This one's more of an adventure thriller that doesn't scare you at all, but makes you a participant in a pulse-pounding journey.
For any movie to succeed, it ought to keep the viewer engrossed first and foremost. Agyaat succeeds in doing that, especially towards the second hour. You haven't witnessed a journey like the one in Agyaat on the Hindi screen before. In the West, the most memorable film I can think of is The Blair Witch Project.
Agyaat works for several factors. The dense jungle blows your mind away, the sound design and the background score are easily at par with international films, the camera movement is spectacular and of course, RGV's execution of the material is just right for a film of this genre.
But, at the same time, the culmination to the film is debatable. Of course, one would be doing gross injustice to the film by revealing the end, but it's bound to have its share of advocates and adversaries. It might bring a smile on your face or a smirk, but the fact remains that the reactions would be in extremes.
A film unit goes for a shoot deep into a forest. They settle at a place with bare minimal facilities run by a strange and quirky man called Setu [Joy Fernandes]. The hero of the film, Sharman [Gautam Rode], is a completely self-obsessed man with no other concern except for his muscles and the leading lady, Aasha [Priyanka Kothari].
The team consists of the director [Howard Rosemeyer], producer [Ishrat Ali], the superstar's spot boy [Ishteyak], cinematographer [Kali Prasad Mukherjee], action director [Ravi Kale], second assistant [Rasika Duggal] and an assistant director [Nitin Reddy].
It all begins when the camera conks off... They have two days waiting for the replacement to arrive and with no form of entertainment or communication, when Setu suggests a camping trip into the forest, they jump at the opportunity. As they settle near a pond for the night, Setu hears a strange sound. He goes to investigate and never returns. After a desperate search, they discover his dead body.
Panic sets in among the unit members and they jump into the vehicle, but they being unfamiliar with the terrain results in an accident. Completely lost and trapped in the jungle as Setu, the only guy who knows the way out, is dead, they don't know which way to move to get out of the forest.
The first 25 minutes of Agyaat are very unlike an RGV film. In a majority of his films, RGV comes to the point at the very start, but Agyaat begins with a dream song [so unlike RGV] and the next 20 minutes are devoted to introducing the characters.
The film actually takes off when the unit decides to penetrate into the jungles and Setu is murdered. From that point onwards, the by-now-famous RGV stamp is visible in several sequences. The two deaths before the interval [Joy Fernandes and Ishrat Ali] are brilliantly executed, especially Ishrat's murder at the interval point.
Agyaat becomes an adventure ride in the post-interval portions. Though it rests on a thin story, it's the adventure element that drives the film to its destination. There are deaths galore, but it's not blood or gore that puts you off. The murders are depicted very, very differently, leaving a lot to your imagination.
RGV experiments again, this time attempting an all-new genre. It must've been extremely difficult to shoot in the forests, that's the first thought that crosses your mind. As mentioned at the very outset, the sound design [Dwarak Warrier], background score [Amar Mohile] and cinematography [Surjodeep Ghosh] are top notch. Thee three names contribute enormously to RGV's vision.
Now to the actors! Nitin Reddy [a star in Telugu films] makes a first-rate debut in Hindi films. He dances exceptionally well [the film begins with a dance] and his confident performance make him an actor to watch out for. Priyanka Kothari shows vast improvement over her previous works. She's good this time. Gautam Rode enacts the hot-headed superstar with conviction.
Every actor in the film makes an impression, but Ishteyak, Kali Prasad Mukherjee and Rasika Duggal stand out. On the whole, Agyaat has an absorbing second half, but the culmination to the film would meet with diverse reactions. At the box-office, the distributors have recovered a substantial chunk of their investment from its dubbed Telugu rights and the remainder should be recovered given its aggressive promotional campaign and extensive release [700 + screens in Hindi belt]. The low-cost film, therefore, should prove to be a profitable venture on the strength of its economics!