CultureCinema Horror-Strained Power Hierarchy In ‘Bramayugam’

Horror-Strained Power Hierarchy In ‘Bramayugam’

As an entertainer, the Bramayugam has succeeded in presenting the intended horror as raw as it is to the audience. From the very beginning to the scenes leading up to the climax there is a chained series of horror followed by a period of rest

What if you happened to step inside a dark, mysterious mansion and the only way out is to play and win a game of dice controlled by an outside corruptive power? The very hearing of this unleashes a plethora of uncanny feelings and thoughts to most of the readers. This is what is visually entrenched in the monochrome formatted Malayalam film Bramayugam (2024), starring the veteran actor Mammootty as Kodumon Potti whereas Siddharth and Arjun Asokan as in the other lead roles. 

Bramayugam (2024) is the second directorial undertaking of Rahul Sadasivan after Bhoothakalam (2022) which gathered much critical acclaim. The film is a strongly structured horror developed around the folklore tales of Kerala, set in a 16th-century dilapidated palace of upper-caste landlords. The story involves the captivation of marginalised characters of the Cook and the Singer, and their unified action to subvert the system. 

Untouched hierarchy of power

Bramayugam as a whole could be seen as a metaphor for power structures in society. When the singer tries to escape the foreign reigns of bondage, he is forced to seek freedom within the forest. Yet, what the forest had in store for him was a death choice. The Chathan demanding the Singer’s time for his freedom is no better than the foreign bondage. 

Source: IMDb

Chathan himself a former slave of Kodumon Potti’s family for decades, asking a lowered class/caste like the Singer to be his slave is indicative of the luring influences of power. Though at first the Singer is attracted to the Landlord, Koduman Potti as an epitome of kindness and compassion, is all a charade, and becomes known only afterwards. This shows that power is always a corruptive force and it acts despite the person holding the position of power to oppress and bring down even the ones at equal status. This happens not just between Chatham and the two characters, but also between the marginalised characters.

As a result of this, both the lower caste/class discriminated characters of the Singer and the Cook are forced to subdue before Chathan who is all powerful enough to take their lives. It is this unbalanced and corruptive power that takes upon the mansion. Hence, the film attempts to say that despite many differences, power is such an entirety or end in itself that could highly impact the holder, thus changing the former power relations and the process will go on. 

Unleashing horror in Bramayugam

As an entertainer, the film has succeeded in presenting the intended horror as raw as it is to the audience. From the very beginning to the scenes leading up to the climax there is a chained series of horror followed by a period of rest. The inter-spacing of these horrors is the most effective in these periods of rest. Rest does not mean everything coming to a standstill rather it is a mode of styling to experience the horror that just occurred to the victimised characters. It also serves to mark the passage of time in the story. 

Time is also an important element that needs to be mentioned. The passage of time is not appropriately mentioned since then on, the victimised characters step into the mansion. Time is blurred as an extended entity marked by the long nights, endless rains and hooting of the owl. The characters slowly fall into the timeless abyss of uncertainty inside the mansion. For the folk Singer (played by Arjun Asokan), it seems as though it is days since he entered the house, but the Cook (played by Siddharth) knows that months should have passed since the Singer’s entry into the place. 

The use of ‘Yakshi‘ is another notable element of the Bramayugam as another attempt to authenticate the nature of folklore as told. She is shown as raw and free nature itself who could go and enter anywhere like the wind as she likes, give and take life at her will. 

Source: IMDb

The film has attempted to brilliantly use the character of Kodumon Potti (played by Mammootty), the actor just executed it as excellently as he could. His mannerisms, dialogue delivery and acting style remained anew to all the characters he had breathed life into so far.

The game of dice with the Singer is a remarkable scene from the film where the Singer has to play it betting the only thing left to him, is his time. The sudden change from compassion to hatred, peace to bursts of anger rang so well and balanced that it rightly struck the viewers. The use of claustrophobia, dark-light contrasts and the signature laughter of Chathan all add to the other horror elements in the tale.  

The climax

The very concluding scenes of the Bramayugam are created out of the careful weaving of science and fiction, leading the viewers to be confused over the trustworthiness of the tale. This beautiful conglomeration meets the eye with the need to identify the devilish ways of Chathan in the people around us to significantly distinguish them from the lot of the usual layman with their innocent-capricious wildness. This change of scene from the whole beginning to the end of the game of dice is deliberately selected and made in monochrome to add to the mystical and to-be-discovered area, whereas the rest is made in colour mode to bring in the elements of modernity.

Source: IMDb

It marks the change from the dark times to the era of new power relations and scientific advancements. But whatever happens, Chathan resides despite the passing of time as devilish as it is, inside the corners of humanity. 

The ending is also chosen to evoke a feeling of redemption and fiction. In the former mode, the viewers could free themselves of the thought that something is haunting them or can haunt them as dark and cringeful like something from an old, unmanned tale. Thus, it alleviates all degrees of heaviness cast by the tale.

In the latter mode of fiction, the viewers could deduce from the ending that Chathan is not just an eternal monster waiting to imprison and hunt down its prey, but a metaphor for every evil that still grows and persist in humanity. This is poignantly put forward by the changed form of Chathan.

Bramayugam has marvelled and created a milestone, not just for the actors in the film but for the talented director like Rahul Sadasivan. The use of monochrome and its different styles to convey layers of meaning, the change of seasons and the ever-persisting momentum of horror have added a unique flavour to the film.

Even when so, Bramayugam has never, not in a single scene gone out of hand in revealing the horror visually. Yet, the sense of horror that is conveyed to the viewers is beyond just feeling. Except for the lag that sets in some long scenes and a few archaic words, the film is flawless. Though the film was released in March when other films were making records at the box office, Bramayugam too is a huge hit financially after competing with the co-releases. Especially if you are on the lookout for a different experience from a horror film, Bramayugam (2024) is the one for you. 

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