I’m a fan of alternative horror. The kind that subtly influences the mind, and casts shadows everywhere. The kind that unhinges its audience, unleashing psychological terrorism of sorts. More than the movies or books themselves, I’m a fan of the creators that come up with them.
Mysskin’s latest offering definitely seemed the type, and it was with mild trepidation that I arrived at a packed house to watch Pisaasu. Also, because, I was forewarned: the movie contained ‘disturbing’ scenes, the Censor Board had observed.
Yet in some ways, it seemed like regular Mysskin fare. For, who would christen a tale of horror – quite simply, and quite so obviously – Pisaasu? It had to be someone who had earlier named another movie from another time Anjaathe. A title so fashioned to inspire dread. And someone, who had christened himself after a Dostoevsky creation. Prince Myshkin of The Idiot. Prince Myshkin of flawed brilliance and idealism that bordered on naiveté; a Dostoevsky design that steered clear of societal norms; poised to self-destruct.
Pisaasu is quite like Fyodor’s Prince. It tries to drive home a lesson. Horror, the Prince’s namesake says, doesn’t always have to end in blood and gore, and a murderous, vengeful ghoul on the loose.
So, what does Mysskin do? He starts with gore instead. A tragic accident; a spirit that seeks revenge but haunts her savior; and a hero who is a fiery idealist….and a struggling violinist.
A curtain of hair is what that Mysskin uses to distinguish his protagonist. A curtain of hair that cloaks his eyes, and clouds his expressions – and that’s how cleverly the director introduces the debutant; blending him seamlessly with the larger, much-exaggerated canvas. Even a painting of a fruit, in Mysskin’s world of Pisaasu, is made to look a little intimidating. Perhaps partly thanks to Arrol Correlli’s haunting score.
Pisaasu, Mysskin clarifies later, doesn’t necessarily need to have a negative connotation. He builds on this line of thought, imbuing his ghoul with a poltergeist-like quality; she shoves people off the bed, has a penchant for bottle openers, and takes particular pleasure in smashing beer bottles. But she means no harm, Mysskin says. A pisaasu can still remain human; she can still retain vestiges of her former life. She can be compassionate and kind…and bitter and vengeful. Mysskin’s pisaasu is painted in shades of grey – and that’s quite literally, too; for she’s a creature with a sheet of black hair, ragged clothes, and cold grey hands.
The director’s fascination for everything morbid is what that drives the script. He’s one of those artistes that paints penury in flattering colours, glorifies everything that is bare and poor, and gets lyrical with the dark and the dismal. Pisaasu is elementally Mysskin that way. It is dotted with the specially-abled, set against a grim canvas.
Pisaasu saves its credits for the end. And when they roll-up, I discover one of the best Mysskin-isms of the decade.
An oxymoron like no other:
Pisaasu deivamaaga… Prayaga
The Pisaasu review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the movie. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have an advertising relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site. But you knew that, didn’t you?