Year:  2020

Director:  Raj Krishna

Rated:  M

Release:  Streaming Now until October 30, 2020

Running time: 39 minutes

Worth: $5.00
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Nikhil Prakash, Ross Turner, Pooja Batra

...lacks taste, heft, and intrigue...

Raj Krishna’s directorial debut tackles an age-old religious mystery a la Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code or Darren Aronofsky’s Pi.

Yet, at a modest forty minutes in length, its attempt to offer a challenging – if not, provocative – thought-piece on religion proves about as stirring as the film’s length.

Fashioned, both visually and narratively, in the style of a mid-twentieth century crime-noir, Padmavyuha uses the confines of a detective-mystery to backwardly posit ideas about religious extremism. Mr Krishna’s eyes are set on presenting this through the ‘radicalisation’ of Hinduism. The troubling approach, having led to the film’s trailer being removed from the internet, brings with it an air of offensiveness that will deprive it of an audience.

Padmavyuha’s central character, a religiously-agnostic professor of religion (more cringe than irony), ‘Professor’ Shaki Ramdas (Nikhil Prakash), fields a series of calls from a mysterious, Hindi-speaking phoner.

The mystery that unfurls lacks taste, heft, and intrigue. What should unify in a time of great division, instead begets the radical views it alleges to oppose.

The film composes itself with a level self-assuredness that it is unqualified to hold. Mr Krishna’s efforts to be provocative create a feeling of indigestion in the viewer. Its visual nods to noir, however accomplished, register as derivative, and are further drowned out in pulpy, problematic dialogue; tools that the filmmaker uses to hide behind, along with the pretence of faith, to disguise his fiery one-sidedness.


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