We feel compelled to give you this disclaimer to not read this review if you intend to go watch Anando Brahma. Because it's this fragile film which, if you have any expectations, will shatter them. You best watch it without knowing or thinking anything about it. If however you do not intend to watch the film or you are so sure that this unassuming cute film will anyway not live up to your standards, you are welcome to continue reading, and we'll try to explain what we mean by that strange disclaimer.
Take the plot, for instance. There's a family in a house - a woman (Taapsee), an old man (Vijay Chandar), a kid and a house-help. They start seeing ghosts. And that's it. We can't tell you any further. Because the story takes a twist right there, and to discuss the plot would be to give away the twist. Not that the twist (and the other plot devices) are genius material, but they do actually entertain if you aren't expecting them.
Say what you want against the horror-comedy genre films, there's one good that comes out of them - they try to have a story. It's a whole different issue that the story may not be great or well worked, but it's still a welcome change from the mass template of hero getting his way with the villain. Raju Gari Gadhi
had a story with organ harvesting as the backdrop whereas Dora
had the ghost of a dog haunt a car. These things are interesting simply by existing as plots in an film space where writers squeeze their last drop of creative juice into lines that propel the hero's ego out of the earth's atmosphere.
Anando Brahma, furnished with a decent plot and a good-ish script, gets the benefit of a director (Mahi V Raghav) who likes to invest in the small things. He gives his characters quirky traits but makes sure to draw from them well after the first joke is over. He reveals more and more with time, and often the revelations are contrived, but the timing works. You feel that little sliver of surprise when a new plot device, inorganically but entertainingly, makes its way into the story.
This hold on story-telling coupled with some attention to sanitised CGI, believable art direction, and effective visuals and music makes Raghav a talent that may make unambiguously good films in the future, but right now we have a film which manages to engage you if you aren't aware of it.
However, what are unambiguously good about Anando Brahma are the few stretches where it lets its comedians loose. The film belongs to Srinivas Reddy, Vennela Kishore, Shakalaka Shankar and Thagubothu Ramesh. While all of them play various versions of Brahmanandam, their success lies in the fact they don't make you miss him.
Reddy and Kishore, in particular, can begin to call themselves legitimate performers at this point of their careers. Their actions are deliberate and confident, which sets them apart from the unsure amateurish lot. While still in amateur district, Shakalaka Shankar and Thagubothu Ramesh still have tricks up their sleeve that make the crowd laugh out loud. So, yeah, you will laugh in Anando Brahma.