118 is an investigative thriller film starring Kalyan Ram, Nivetha Thomas and Shalini Pandey in lead roles. Mahesh Koneru produced the film. KV Guhan has written and directed it. 118 released worldwide on 01st Mar, 2019.
An investigative journalist, Goutham (Kalyan Ram), has a strange dream about a girl (Nivetha Thomas) getting hurt and possibly dying. He ignores it and moves on with his life. He gets engaged to his girlfriend (Shalini Pandey). When the dream surfaces again after 6 months, he starts investigating it with the help of his friend (Prabhas Sreenu). What he discovers in his investigation and what is the connection between the number 118 and his dream forms the crux of the story.
It is rare to see Telugu films based on dreams. 118 is a new entry into this list with a unique central theme but flawed narration. In spite of having a lot of potential, the script underplays time and again. The film starts with a strange dream but abruptly moves to 6 months later. This could have been told later with a dialogue or through a flashback as it is not an effective opening sequence. The first half revolves around character development until the dream recurs. The film picks up into a fast-paced narration and engages audience throughout the film. The interval block is interesting. The second half maintains the tone of the film. The flashback runs on slow pace but is watchable. The climax is abrupt and leaves the audience craving for more.
118 has an interesting central theme of a recurring dream. Instead of taking either symbolism or direction from the dream, they directly take clues and solve the case. In fact, the primary conflict of investigative thriller arises from probability of choices. However, the protagonist directly draws conclusions without looking at options. For example, Kalyan Ram has to draw similarities between a few dates in a scene. Instead of looking at similarities between dates (like sum, even/odd, sequence etc) or week/month, he directly concludes that they are on a full moon day. This is pretty odd on normal standards as the first rule of any investigation is to look at simple things and move towards complex choices. There are many such scenes throughout the film.
The villains don’t kill Kalyan Ram for no apparent reason. They consider him as a threat since the beginning of the film. They kill several people around him but not him. It is a common flaw in investigative thriller genre but is too unrealistic. The concept of lucid dreams is forced into the film while recurring dreams are enough for the script. They might have done it just because it is exciting but it adds no value. However, the general audience may appreciate it. Overall, it is an engaging script with a lot of flaws.
Kalyan Ram is brilliant in his role but the director failed to use him properly. His character lacks depth and it effects his performance. Shalini Pandey has a brief role which adds no value to the story. However, her performance is convincing. Nivetha Thomas is superb in her role. The entire film revolves around her and she does justice to her role. She leaves an impression within a short runtime which is commendable. Prabhas Sreenu plays the role of a regular sidekick and he is good at it. Rajeev Kanakala appears in a crucial role and impresses with his performance.
The script is good and it engages the audience until the climax. The dialogues are average. The production values are decent. The cinematography is superb. The film takes full advantage of director turned cinematographer. The background score is good. The editing is average as the transition between scenes could have been better. The direction is strictly average. He used too many shots in several scenes instead of tracking shots. This works out during suspense and chase scenes by creating anxiety in audience but doesn’t work for regular scenes. Several long shots were shot from all directions for no apparent reason. An experienced director could have improved the film to a great extent.
118 is an investigative thriller with several flaws. The genre has restricted audience and the films are strictly one-time watch. So, it is commendable job of producers to choose such a script. Overall, it is an engaging one-time watch film.