The regional cinema hailing from the southern part of India has ventured into fantasy fiction and sci-fi drama, and so far, they have managed to produce several mediocre products in this genre. The Village is a Tamil-language six-episode miniseries about a scientific experiment that went wrong and how it affected the entire population living in the place. Created and directed by Milind Rau, this show is a decent attempt to work around a genre that is tricky at best.
The Village is about a family of three who were on a road trip and decided to take the route less traveled. This decision almost cost them their lives. Gautham, his wife Neha, and daughter Maya did not expect to get sucked into the strangeness of the village Kattiyal. They were suddenly surrounded by mutants in the village, which is considered haunted by the people of the neighboring hamlets. Two men come forward to help Gautham locate his wife and daughter, who have mysteriously disappeared.
Another plotline in the show follows wheelchair-bound Prakash, an heir to his father’s business, who cannot wait to inherit the money and find a solution to his disability. He has hired a group of gunmen to bring him samples of the land around the abandoned factory and the coast of Kattiyal. The young man has some sinister plans up his sleeve, and he is unwilling to reveal his bigger plans behind these experiments. Is there a connection between the mutants that Gautham and his family come across and the samples that Prakash’s gunmen are trying to locate? Was there a tragic history involving the villagers, as they could not rescue themselves from the misfortune that had befallen them?
The Village, directed by Milind Rau and written by Deepthi Govindarajan and Deeraj Vaidy, is interesting in the concept it tackles. The execution is where the team failed miserably, and there was no coming back for the makers right from when the premise was set up. The prologue of the show set the mood in the most over-the-top manner, and there was no holding back the amount of gore that was on display right from the start till the end. The biggest advantage of OTT-based films and television is the blatant display of bloodbath. In this show there is plenty of bloodshed and the narrative does not ask for it.
In The Village, there are plenty of action scenes that involve fighting between the mutants and the humans, as the latter are trying to escape from being killed, but the bloodshed is prolonged and unnecessary. These action pieces were added to titillate the audience and increase the impact due to the shock of watching a person being murdered mercilessly. The show is about how the mutants were formed and their tragic history, and grants them a redemption arc. The writers only took the sci-fi and fantasy fiction drama parts of the genre and presented a mixed bag of a show. The showmakers, writers, and directors themselves had zero idea of what they wanted to convey. The mutants whom the audience are supposed to feel sympathetic for end up becoming villains of the show with no arc that could project them as a party who has been wronged.
There is also a contradiction in the narrative around the leaders of the mutant group. In the show, Sairaj and his family were known to have mistreated many workers employed at their mines. As the show progressed, Sairaj and his wife, Subhadra, eventually fought for their lives and were expected to be treated with dignity. The writers were either confused or had zero idea how to layer the narrative in a meaningful manner. The audience remained unsure if they were meant to support Sairaj and his clansmen or feel pure rage against them. This show could have explored the gray shades of the antagonists, but the writers were keen only on surface-level emotions. There is hardly any depth given to several roles.
A hard and fast rule of sci-fi drama or fantasy fiction is to clearly define the world being created. A person or a group (good or evil) needs to have specific traits and powers. In the case of The Village, there is no exploration beyond the contaminated water and air that caused the bodies to go through massive changes. This transformation made them into mutants, but the powers they received plus the additional strength and abilities were ambiguously displayed, which creates a nuisance in the narrative. The writers hardly put any effort into these plot points and left it for the audience to make assumptions.
The screenplay is flat as a road, and there is no depth to it. It is devoid of emotions and sentiments, and most of the characters only resort to wailing their lungs out, which is an annoying distraction. The story was engaging to a certain point, but soon it became ludicrous as there was nothing that could bring it all together. The screenplay is plain and riddled with sudden twists and turns, which become dull after a point and do not recover. The climactic narrative also has no clarity in regard to how each person reacts to the chemical now that certain people have been exposed to it.
The physical characteristics of the mutants were a bizarre mixture of what a lot of the audience has already seen in Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. There is a lack of originality, right from the screenplay to the production level. The direction of the show is awful, as is the CGI; the production and the performances do not blend well from the start until the finish line. Milind Rau could have exploited the genre to his benefit and made the show watchable instead of over-relying on technical wizardry, which did not fare well for the overall product. The cinematography is bizarre, and the production design quality is poor.
To portray the impact of the leaked chemical on the flora and fauna, the team has placed some bizarre-looking large artificial installations that looked fake. The extensive prosthetics used on the actors are distracting, and they do not serve to make the show engaging. It is obvious that a lot of scenes that were supposed to be nighttime in the screenplay were shot in the daytime, and edited in post, the entire scenario looks borderline black and white. The discrepancy was obvious, and the director needs to be held responsible for this mishap. Each episode could have been reduced to thirty minutes of runtime instead of dragging the narrative up to forty-nine minutes, which is close to one hour. The performances could not be tallied as more than half the characters are layered with prosthetics, and none of their emotions could be felt on any level. Arya, like Gautham, could hardly project his pain and fear of losing his wife and daughter. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast in the show is forgettable, with no arc that could be worth mentioning. The Village on Amazon Prime is unwatchable, as the concept only works on a superficial level.