Welcome Home full Movie Review
STORY: Two unsuspecting school teachers, Anuja (Kashmira Irani) and Neha (Swarda Thigle), who are on their way to the only house in a secluded village in Maharashtra, show up at the doorstep of a family comprising oddballs. Logically, the ladies should have just upped and left but they stay. What ensues hereon epitomises madness, menace and mayhem.
REVIEW: That both Neha and Anuja are rustic and refined – dressed in loose salwars with pleated dupattas covering their bosoms, oily hair pulled back in a tight ponytail and no make-up – has been established in their respective introductory scenes. Life in a staunch patriarchal household must have hardened them and turned these two young girls into docile individuals. We say this as that aspect of their personas surface when they bob without protest, sob under their breaths and take verbal thrashings from the male members of their respective families for wanting to hold on to their jobs or returning late from work. One day, the duo is sent to a long list of hamlets as census enumerators. On their way home, at a crucial junction, Neha reconfirms with Anuja if she still wants to go to that only house in a far-off village. The latter responds in positive. On reaching the somewhat deplorable building, the two exchange quick whispers about this family of four being ‘very, very odd’ and scoot. But a person’s initial demons are hard to get over, and the bruises on childlike Prerna (Tina Bhatia) reopen old wounds. After much cajoling, Neha gives in to Anuja’s demand: they are going back for a thorough inspection and rescue a heavily pregnant Prerna, who is also clearly combatting mental health issues. That family is sociopathy personified and the house, a house of terrors.
Director Pushkar Mahabal’s ‘Welcome Home’ has an air of eerie silence looming over his story (written by Ankita Narang), which is juxtaposed against the heinous and senseless crimes that are mercilessly carried out by the paanch saal ka maun vrat-ee patriarch Ghanshyam (Shashi Bhushan) with his kook of a cook, Bhola (Boloram Das). Ironically, Ghanshyam is a loyal devotee of the Almighty and is often seen engrossed in chanting deep prayers in the hallway while in a room adjacent to the temple are two innocent, helpless humans begging for their lives – such is the intensity of his narcissistic God complex.
Mahabal has portrayed Bhola as the creepiest amongst all and embodies the spirit of a nymphomaniac – asking from time to time, “yeh ladkiyan jhoot bolti hain, main jaun unke paas, bhaiya? Main jaun? Main jaun?…” He is a sex-deprived and extremely deranged character; writer Narang has shown no leniency and gone to extreme lengths to develop this role and unleash the megalomaniac tendencies in him. Bholoram Das internalises the characteristic traits of a man you wouldn’t want to be in the same room with for a split second. Shashi Bhushan works in tandem with Das and together, they give the viewers an insight into the twisted world of pseudo machismo and toxic masculinity.
Tina Bhatia embodies the demeanour and mind-set of a deeply Stockholm-ed and fearful victim of domestic violence and female infanticide. As Prerna, Bhatia is trapped in the clutches of her own mind and there she remains. The performance is one that is bound to evoke pity. Akshita Arora’s the conniving and controlling mother of the aforementioned barbaric creatures, and she lacks empathy… just what her character demands out of her!
Leading the pack of these astounding performers are Kashmira Irani and Swarda Thigle. The actresses exhibit immense range in their roles as beat-up survivors who fight many a battle, both in that hell house and life in general, head-on! In several vital scenes, the duo – who share sisterly chemistry like most abused do – emote through their expressions: the twitching of the eyebrows, trembling of lips, breakdowns, and the resurrection of their stronger selves. The direction (and tight editing, too) by Pushkar Mahabal and the narrative by Ankita Narang – however impactful – wouldn’t have hit the right chord had it not been for their incredible cast. Also, the timeliness of it. In a world where black & white photos are being posted on social media to stop violence against women, ‘Welcome Home’ serves as a bitter reflection of the society we live in and we cannot stress enough the topicality of the subject at hand.
Saee Bhope does some brilliant work behind the camera and heightens the fright and drama in ‘Welcome Home’ with his well-thought-out shots. Creepy gets creepier, all thanks to Meghdeep Bose’s sinister music. Aptly, this crime-thriller has no songs or long rants about the issues it sets out to encapsulate.
Even for a movie with a humble budget, it is criminal that Irani’s face was smeared with so much tanning lotion that she was reduced to a haggard version of her usual gorgeous self. The make-up artists, Nitin Jha and Galib Sheikh, should have known by now that cultural appropriation is passé and frowned upon. Also, the gore is too much to process at times. Two scenes in particular stand out for their graphic detailing. We shall leave it at that.
When the credits rolled, we happened to realise that ‘Welcome Home’ is indeed based on a true story. If the film could terrorise us so badly, we cannot even begin to imagine the plight of the survivors when it had actually happened.
But, everything said, ‘Welcome Home’ gives hope: hope that every time a leach elbows a naïve-looking girl, she will fight back. Hope that every time a wife, mother or daughter is assaulted or murdered, the women would fight back and seek justice.
Welcome Home full Movie Cast
- Kashmira Irani
- Shashi Bhushan
- Boloram Das
- Tina Bhatia
- Akshita Arora
- Paresh Rawal
- Swaroop Rawal