'Masooda' hit the cinemas today (November 18). It is produced by Rahul Yadav Nakka of Swadharm Entertainment.
Neelam (Sangeetha Krishna) is a single mother to a teen girl named Naziya (Bandhavi Sridhar). All of a sudden, Naziya starts behaving strangely. She is obviously possessed. A petrified Neelam approaches her trusted neighbour Gopi (Thiruveer) for help. Gopi now has to help Neelam handle the existential crisis and do his bit to save Nazriya from being devoured by a greedy ghost. His search for a solution puts him on a path to knowing about an evil woman named Masooda. Meanwhile, a 'baba' (Subhalekha Sudhakar) is also out to save Nazriya.
Back in 1989, two young Muslim men walked into a jungle, only to discover that they were being haunted by a female ghost. A grisly murder and a police investigation follow ten years later. In the present, Gopi and Neelam are cordial neighbours. If the former is a middle-class man working for a company and mooning over his female colleague (Kavya Kalyanram), the latter is a school teacher struggling to make ends meet because her estranged husband (Satya Prakash) exploits her.
As for Nazriya, around whose fate the story revolves, she has been losing interest in her studies. A fatal flaw this film suffers from is that she is given no personality. So, when she suddenly confronts her "superstitious" mother, it looks forced. Gopi's characterization is half-baked. He is too timid to approach his crush and that's the only detail that is clear about him. His unselfishness is explained as the result of Mahatma Gandhi's influence on his personality. It's all so plain.
The film makes references to yesteryear actress Divya Bharathi who died mysteriously, and the notorious serial killer Cyanide Mohan, to create short-lived curiosity. The characters played by Satya Prakash and Satyam Rajesh are there as needless deviations.
The horror elements are absurdly staged. A possessed teen girl shrieking she won't spare anyone doesn't scare anyone in 2022. The sound design alone manages to create some horror. The sound of the balloon spooking Gopi is a case in point. Beyond that, 'Masooda' falls back on outdated tropes. Merely mentioning terms like 'Kshudra puja' means nothing in an era when the idea of horror should have moved to the next level. The loneliness of the characters, the agony of the single mother, and the adventures are supposed to create scares.
The flashback is where the plot seems to gain some momentum in an otherwise snail-paced movie. Several Muslim characters are introduced. The trace of domestic neo-noir drama hasn't been explored at all. Everything is so superficial.
Prashanth R Vihari's music is ordinary. The cinematography and the art direction alone matter in this otherwise generic yawn-inducing drama.
'Masooda' is an over-hyped snooze-fest. Good technical quality is its only merit. The horror elements are unmistakably simplistic.