I expected suspense but all I got was masala. Then, just as I was beginning to piece the film together, it ended," said an audience member after Friday's morning show of Whistle. True, the movie has not justified its title and won't earn marks for originality of screenplay, camerawork, sound effects and background score.
Prashanth Raj's loose remake of Tamil film Pizza is a horror-cum-love story with liberal doses of masala thrown in.
There is nothing too ambitious or deeply significant going on, just a frantic guy, a missing wife and a whole lot of shots of empty roads.
Whistle is about a pizza delivery boy Ram (Chiranjeevi Sarja) who is in a live-in relationship with Anu (Pranitha Subhash). Anu, an aspiring writer of novels, is researching for her next book, a horror story.
Though Ram does not believe in supernatural entities, he is confused and scared by Anu's incessant anecdotes on paranormal beings.
His anxiety worsens when he meets the pizza restaurant owner's (played by director Guruprasad) daughter who is haunted by a spirit. Meanwhile, Anu gets pregnant by accident leading to an altercation between the couple.
They soon make-up and get married secretly at home. Back at work, Ram goes to deliver pizza to a posh bungalow but returns to the restaurant in a shocked and injured state. Ram keeps muttering his wife's name. When his boss questions him about it, Ram details the frightening moments he went through at a customer Smitha's bungalow. Then Anu goes missing. Whether Ram finds Anu is disclosed with an unexpected climax.
The roles have been cast well, it's the director who fails them by not exploiting their talent well enough. Chiru's role oscillates between positive and negative shades.
Pranitha is expressive, but the tension between her and Chiru's character though well-handled, is never explained.
Director Prashanth and cinematographer Santhosh Pathaje's penchant for darkness and torch light effects lends Whistle more atmospherics than thrills.
The frequent use of slow motion and close-ups weighs down what could have been a tense and exciting movie.
Even the series of songs and continuity errors cause distractions. A couple of songs by Joshua Sridhar sound soothing.
Verdict: No match to Pizza, a lesson for those who think hit originals will always make for successful remakes.
Whistle builds hopes and then leaves you wanting for the thrill of a scare.