CAST:Manoj, Shiraa, Baby Srivarshini, Baby Sathanya, Anjali Rao
DURATION:2 hours 9 minutes
Baby has a lot in common with Mysskin's Pissasu. Both the films largely take place in multi-storeyed apartments. The ghosts in the films are defined by their hair. We do not see them for most parts of the film. But most importantly, scratch away the horror element in both and you get a solid emotional tale of love and longing.
The film begins with a little girl, Aditi (Srivarshini) getting friendly with an invisible figure, who she calls Anne. Her concerned mother, Shakthi (Shiraa), takes her to a psychiatrist, who puts it down as an imaginary friend she has made up in her mind because she is all alone and has no one to play. Shakthi is separated from her husband Shiva (Manoj), who lives with their other daughter, Avantika (Sathanya). Then, Shakthi learns a startling truth — Aditi isn't her daughter! She confronts Shiva and he tells her the truth (go see the film to find out what it is). The couple patches up and decides to live together. However, Aditi gets possessive and angry every time Shakthi expresses her love for Avantika. Soon, Avantika is terrorized by Anne (Anjali Rao), who is actually a ghost, and when Shiva realizes what is really happening, and tries to warn Shakthi but she brushes these off as his imagination. The couple split once again. What happens when Shakthi finds out the truth for herself?
Given the micro-budget, Baby lacks the sheen that we have seen in some recent horror films (including Pissasu) but makes up for it with the engaging plot and some resourceful camera work (Anand Jones). The presence of the ghost is implied mainly through camera movements and some intriguing sound effects and the background score (Sathish-Harish) add to the feeling of dread. The isolation of the apartment (it is on the 12th floor) also works in the film's favour. A simple visual of the camera moving along a deserted hallway gives us a creepy feeling.
The plot deals with concepts like separated couples, post-partum depression, adoption, and DNA swab tests, and director Suresh doesn't dumb down the material to explain these. Instead, he places his trust on the audience's maturity, and avoids spoonfeeding. Once we are told who the ghost is, we feel comforted but then, when we see the trauma that a ghost, even one which is not violent, can do a child, we realize that the family's trouble is far from over.
However, the film feels quite raw — the acting is just functional, the line readings sound rehearsed and lack the natural flow of dialogue, and the writing becomes somewhat muddled after Shiva learns of the ghost's presence. We are perplexed on why Anne wants to traumatize a little girl, considering that we are told she loves kids and sees that Shiva and Shakthi care for both the kids equally. The couple, too, does not behave like thinking individuals. They choose to break-up for the second time just because Shakthi cannot part with Aditi, and Shiva doesn't explore any options to get rid of the ghost.
Still, Suresh has managed to give us a little film that has its moments and which feels genuinely scary and heartwarming. Sometimes, that is all we ask for.