Hidimbha(Telugu, Streaming on Aha)
Starring Ashwin Babu , Nandita Swetha
Directed by Aneel Kanneganti
Rating: * ½ (one and a half stars)
Films about cannibalism have a very poor history.And understandably so.Who wants to watch cinema about human beings who enjoy eating human flesh? Some years ago there was a fascinating Bhaskar Hazarika’s Assamese film Ravening on a friendship that develops between a man and woman over nibbles of surgically -skinned human flesh.
No telling about tastes, really.I also enjoyed Mimi Cave’s Fresh in 2022 for its selfserving(no pun intended) ‘meat’-cute impulses.
Even if you have an appetite for carnivorous dramas Hidimbha in Telugu is in very poor taste. It takes on the recent trend of trumpeting tribalism and demands our respect out of sheer cultural specificity.A film like Kantara worked only for its leading man’s genuine reverence for tribalism.
Hidimbha referring back to a tribe that apparently swore by cannibalism, is as fake as a sex worker’s orgasmic act. It overdoes the shrill tone to the point of piercing our eardrums.
The director seems to have no idea of narrative rhythm. He weighs in a dramatic persuasion whenever he feels like, so that the entire proceeding feels like ripped pages from an indecipherable diary.
The film begins with the ‘mysterious’ murders of women all across the city of Hyderabad who have one trait in common : the colour red.Junior artistes wearing ill-fitting tight (red) dresses, walk into darkly lit roads when they know that a killer is on the prowl. The cheesy term ‘looking for it’ acquires an all new dimension in this sleazy-does-it superfast plot where we move from the present to the past with an exasperating vagary.
You would think the black-and-white portions are in the past. But no.The b-and-w colour scheme is applied randomly, much like everything in this film which seems to be shoot at gunpoint. It is a jittery nervous and extremely inconsistent storytelling. Some of the action sequences are potentially interesting.But are ruined by overkill.
The performances by the enthusiastic actors give the feeling they must try all the expressions at their disposal lest they never get a chance to do so again.Nanditha Shweta and Ashwin Babu play a couple of cops with a past connection that never quite evolves into the loaded romance it is meant to be. Makrand Deshpande, the master of weirdness from time immemorial, here plays a human eater with the relish of a little boy who will put dirt in his mouth when his parents are not looking.
The shocker at the climax only reinforces the growing grating feeling in the audience that this film cares neither for tradition nor cinema. It just wants to get its audience by hook or by crook, and fails for trying too hard.