Pachchis is the kind of film that sounds great on paper – an edge-of-the-seat thriller that sees a man fight for survival even as he’s hunted down by some influential people and other not-so-influential ones. However, in reality the screenplay turns it into a drag and keeps things so clinical, it’s hard to stay invested or care about the outcome.
Abhiram (Raamz) is a journalist whose father is serving time for running scams. The once-rich kid is now a gambler looking to make a quick buck even if the odds are stacked against him. He does not just owe RK (Ravi Varma) a huge sum of money; he also weaves a lie that sees him embroiled in a dangerous feud between some political leaders. Also on his tail is Avantika (Swetaa Varma) who wants to know the truth about her missing brother. As the plot thickens and more players are added, the stakes get higher but you’re left wondering when the 2-hours-8-minutes long film will end.Pachchis 2021.
It’s all exciting at first when Abhiram’s predicament is peeled back layer by layer, but he’s not a protagonist you empathise with. You want to feel for Avatika and her desperation to find her brother but you never get a chance to do that either. The late John Kottoly, Subhalekha Sudhakar and Vishwender Reddy play the political leaders Mallikarjun, Gangadhar and Basava Raju, who’re looking to take each other down. The good thing is that the film doesn’t give you enough time to think about who the undercover cop at the core of this tale is. But that also just means it is repetitive scene after scene of gun shots, dead bodies, car chases, back-stabbing, long phone calls et al with a good measure of cursing thrown in.
Despite the clinical screenplay, the film sticks true to what it wants to be. The characters are all grey and remain so irrespective of what happens. Performances by all the actors too manage to work for the most part. The director also steers clear of stylising the film, keeping things real and dreary. Kartik Parmar’s cinematography deserves a special mention. The film is open-ended, hinting at a sequel. Pachchis had the potential to be a great thriller but falls short at keeping the audience engaged.