'Athidhi' started streaming on Disney Plus Hotstar today. Running into six episodes of approximately 30 minutes each, the 3-hour web series is presented by 'PSV Garuda Vega' fame Praveen Sattaru.
The story is set in the present. The location is somewhere on the outskirts of a town. Ravi (Venu Thottempudi) and his bedridden wife Sandhya (Aditi Gautam) live in a palatial bungalow. Ravi is a man of rich taste and a prolific novelist to boot. When it rains heavily outside, a young beauty named Maya (Avanthika Mishra) seeks shelter in the mansion posing as a psychic healer. Ravi becomes her warm host. Meanwhile, an over-zealous YouTuber named Savari (Venkatesh Kakumanu) rushes to the mansion seeking shelter; he just ran away from a ghost.
The rest of the series is about what transpires between the three characters over a span of a night. A greedy cop (Ravi Varma) and a tea vendor (Bhadram) are also dragged into the plot.
At one point in his career, Venu Thottempudi effectively employed his ironic facial expressions in movies such as 'Swayamvaram' and 'Chiru Navvutho'. In his OTT debut, the actor delivers an inconsistent performance. He appears comical when he was least expected to - in the final episode. Avanthika Mishra looks seductive in a scene and that's all there is to her performance.
Venkatesh Kakumanu, who gets to mouth the maximum number of lines (most of them appear redundant and overtly attention-seeking), fails to generate laughs. Ravi Varma's performance is derivative.
Kapil Kumar's music is basic. The background score doesn't animate the scenes that are barely spooky. Manojh Katasani's cinematography is purely functional. Editor Dharmendra Kakarala, who has edited a few notable movies in the past, follows a regular format and tries to manufacture thrills where there are none.
The segment where two fictional stories are narrated visually by the novelist character.
The idea of taking on the mantle of God and punishing evil-doers.
Amateurish scenes detailing the back story of a key character.
Preachy tone of the climax.
The YouTuber's artificial, over-talking character.
Lack of humour. The reactions of the characters lack believability after a point.
Clueless behaviour by otherwise grown adults.
Predictability does the series in. One can see through the gambit by the end of the third episode. If you are a horror movie buff, the whole set-up will reveal clues to you.
'Athidhi' has got a largely predictable story arc. Its flashback is both silly and outdated. The motives are clearly established but the behaviour of the victims is laughable.
Rating: 2 / 5