If you don't pay much attention to how the CGI has turned out or how the scenes are sewed together in Rahul Riji Nair's hypnotizing debut feature film, Ottamuri Velicham (Light in the Room), you will be able to see beyond the simple plot of a housewife (Vinita Koshy) putting up with her newly-wed sadist husband's (Deepak Parambol) daily abuse, which tries to encompass the small evils surrounding the higher evil of marital rape and despair. It's a slightly overlong yet gradually encouraging thriller drama where the concept of light plays the role of the villain, as the wife considers the always-on light in her room - her husband's greatest invention - to be a driver of most of her issues, preventing her from sleeping at night being one of them. Her husband is a man who has all the qualities a person should not have despite being a masterful electronics technician. It is in this realistic depiction of the characters that director Nair hits gold, constantly putting the focus on the social issue that does not easily come up on discussion tables in India. There is tension in how the film has been structured, often making you slide to the edge of your seat, and predict what might happen to the characters who all live on top of a hill, in a decrepit house with no functioning windows or doors between rooms, away from all the hustle bustle of the city, giving the perfect facade that everything's hunky-dory and where a couple do not have the privacy to even utter a romantic word because what Ottamuri Velicham highlights is what is happening inside four walls and around us everywhere. It could be the house next door or one of your own and you don't even know about it. That is the effect and the moral of this brilliant and well-acted drama that should be on the top of the watchlist of every Indian who has been living in denial. But you don't accept that, do you? TN.
(Watched and reviewed at its India premiere at the 20th MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.)
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