‘Anya’s Tutorial’ : A slow burn horror, lacks depth in the crux yet spine chilling

Firstly, it is so exciting to see what the evolution of OTT has done to Indian Cinema especially down south. Over the last couple of years, the OTT platform has widened the scope and space for this generation filmmakers to have some liberty to be brutally honest in what and how they want to convey. There have been some amazing contents and more than all of that, it is so healthy to see increasing number of women centric contents or where women play very prominent roles without just being a sidekick to the male ‘Hero’.

‘Anya’s Tutorial’ is one such series which is in fact completely dominated by women in all possible prime roles, with the director herself ‘Pallavi Gangireddy’. Let me not go into the story in detail, probably that is one of the very few factors that will keep you sticking to the seat. The plot revolves around ‘Lavani (a) Anya (a) Lavanya’ who makes up ghosts in her live ‘Makeup’ tutorial videos to bump up the numbers, one of the weirdest ways to seek attention on social media; Madhu (Anya’s sister), played by Regina Cassandra; a young techie Hemanth played by Sameer Malla who backs Anya all the while just to commit his actual intentions to her later and Arjun played by Darsh, a teen affected by the horrifying live tutorial.

What works so well in the 7-episode series is the freshness in the creepy sequences. It does not scare you the usual way but still manages to give you chills at times when you predict but not the way you expect. A slow burn horror thriller which slowly gets into the ‘Live tutorial’ world of Anya and the pace worked for me wonderfully. But the actual issue that I had is, in the template of this pacing the story takes more time in building up the sequences with not much progressing in almost 3-4 episodes. For instance, the crux of the story is the childhood of both Anya and Madhu fails to make the impact that it needed for the rest of the story to work or to justify the crazy weird actions of Anya.

There are sequences that are made with a clear intention to look freshly scary and in the process, there is quite a bit of time lost which could have been used to give more clarity on the why’s, how’s and what’s. For instance, the flashback childhood scenes could have been elaborate, the reasons Madhu and Anya had for their grudge on each other, the social media following happens just like that and so on. But still, with a lead given for the season 2, we can expect most of the questions are answered and the incomplete stories are complete. More focus was on the staging on the horror sequences which worked to a fair extent but had there been the same focus given on the above-mentioned questions, this would have worked big time for me. And the events that happen after a live murder are hard to accept with not many reactions from anyone but with 2M viewers posting funny comments.

Nivedhithaa Sathish as Anya was so honest to the character and manages to justify what is a very challenging lead role for a relatively new actor. Regina Cassandra as Madhu is a frustrated sister and she had to carry it out throughout the 7-episodes and its pretty hard for anyone to not being repetitive or monotonous for what the role demands. My favorite pick of the cast was Arjun, played by Darsh, and he as a terrified teen, completely justifies and reflects exactly what it looks like when a ghost slaps you right on the face. A huge space for cinematography and has been well utilized with naturally deep frames much needed to make it as creepy as possible. Especially in the live video scenes, I’m sure every audience would go in search of something in every possible corner of the frame.

Besides the bundle of issues that I had, Anya’s tutorial did leave me glued to the seat till the very end for its freshly staged and choreographed horror sequences and the curiosity to know what really the conflict is with Anya and Madhu.

Available on: Aha (Tamil and Telugu)

  • Top Cast: Nivedhithaa Sathish, Regina Cassandra, Sameer Malla
  • Written by: Sowmya Sharma
  • Cinematography: Vijay K. Chakravarthy
  • Directed by: Pallavi Gangireddy