Debutant director Jithu Madhavan has packed quite a punch with his maiden film, “Romancham” (Goosebumps). Being true to its name, the film does give you the excitement it promises. The best part is that it doesn’t offer the typical excitement you might expect from a film of the horror genre. The comedy here surpasses the horror elements, but things fall beautifully into place.

The usage of typical horror props like an Ouija board sets the mood of the narrative quite right. However, what works best is how meticulously each character has been developed and how impeccable their comic timings are. Everyone in “Romancham” gives almost pitch-perfect performances, from the veteran actors to the complete newcomers. When we see them together on the screen, it does not feel like they are a bunch of actors working together for the first time as a group. 

Instead, they appear as people who have really known each other for a while and have been sharing space. They seem to be aware of each other quirks, bad habits, triggers, and everything that you know about people who have been with you for long. This chemistry between the actors works hugely in favor of the film, and right from the beginning, you realize no matter what, there will never be a dull moment in this film, and there never is.

Another exciting thing about the film is that true events have inspired it, and because of its careful and crafty making, it does not seem unbelievable either. At the very beginning, we get to know that this is about seven people living together in a house in Bangalore in 2007. This is a group of bachelors, and we get a solid mixture of extremely different types of people. 

There are the unemployed ones, the ones with proper jobs, some with bizarre business ideas, and the ones awaiting their appointment letters. These are all bachelor guys living their lives to the fullest, partying all night, and waking up to one messy house the next day. While the responsible ones try to keep the others in line, things keep getting out of hand in their own comical way. The simple charm of the lives these bachelors live makes the sequences really enjoyable and vibrant. 

A still from Romancham (2023).
A still from Romancham (2023).

Now comes the point when one group member, unable to participate in a game that requires physical movement and agility, suggests that they play something more engaging yet does not require movement. Teammates initially oppose, but gradually, the Ouija board draws everyone in. It all starts with fun and games, and they even become popular in the neighborhood, with people coming to them with unresolved issues of their families in the hope of getting answers. 

From here, “Romancham” starts dabbing with elements of horror, but that too in a rather comic and animated way. After a point, the two members who operated the Ouija board on their whims realize that they aren’t in control anymore. If this realization isn’t enough, the group soon discovers that the spirit summoned via Ouija is quite determined to live with them. At first, some of the more logical ones in the group refuse to believe it, but the ghost, with its staunch determination, ultimately makes everyone feel its presence. What follows is a comical chaos and a desperate attempt to make the house get rid of the ghost. 

Coming to the characters, though, every one of them has been developed with equal care and craft; the character of Sinu, played by Arjun Ashokan, stands out. With his weird quirks and his absolutely great comic timing, Arjun has nailed the character. From his introduction to the group till the time he leaves, only to come back again, he fills the screen with a kind of energy that’s very muted and yet very weird, something that goes with the vibe of a comedy horror film really well.

“Romancham,” with its simple yet effective and intriguing plot, hits all the right chords. The background score by Sushin Shyam adds the perfect icing to the cake. The lives of the bachelors, with their everyday struggles, fights, and bouts of excitement and happiness, make them the ideal target of a ghost who despite having a sad past probably does not mean harm. The film ends on a kind of cliffhanger, making us, the audience, look forward to the sequel. After all, who would not want a ride that’s this funny yet scary at the right places?

★★★★½

Read More: 25 Greatest Malayalam Movies of All Time

Romancham (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Wikipedia
Romancham (2023) Movie Cast: Soubin Shahir, Arjun Ashokan, Chemban Vinod Jose

Where to watch Romancham

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