Subrahmanyapuram, starring Sumanth and Eesha, delves into a never ending debate over the existence of God – Does He really exist or is He a creation of man? If He does exist, then what is the proof? And in doing so, director Santhossh Jagarlapudi weaves a plot that takes an agnostic, who is also a research scholar, to a temple town that has been witnessing a series of mysterious deaths.
And just before they commit suicide, the villagers see a sparkling image of a peacock, which vanishes into thin air within few seconds, and this leads all of them to believe that God is calling them. All this leads to a thrilling finale which throws light on the greed of men, and how people can be manipulated to a great extent using the name of God. But, unfortunately, Santhossh Jagalapudi squanders the chance to turn Subrahmanyapuram into an engaging thriller, despite having a good plot and some interesting moments.
Sumanth stars as Karthik, a research scholar who has been studying the myths surrounding popular temples across India. His research leads him to Subrahmanyapuram, a temple town which attracts thousands of devotees of Lord Subramanya Swamy. We are told that no one is allowed to pour water or any such offering on the idol. However, one day, when a villager ends up breaking this rule, it brings great disharmony to the village. A lot of people begin to die and a pattern emerges behind their sudden and shocking deaths. The rest of the story is all about how Karthik goes to this village and finds out the truth behind these shocking events.
The film runs on similar lines like that of Nikhil and Swathi-starrer Karthikeya, where quite a few people die in a village and it is upto a medico to solve the mystery. Although the professions of the two protagonists is different, the intent is the same – solve the mystery behind events that are linked to God. In Subrahmanyapuram, Santhossh spends ample time to establish Sumanth’s characterisation as a rationalist and an agnostic. Karthik (Sumanth) is the kind of person who loves going to temples to study their architecture and history, but has no interest in praying to God. In another scene, he tells a priest that people spend way too much to pacify God rather than spending a few bucks to renovate temples to protect them cracks. At every stage in the film, Santhossh keeps reminding us about Karthik’s characterisation and why he will never let his emotions overpower his rational thinking.
Sumanth is an apt choice for a role like this, and he pulls it off quite well too. There is also a short romantic track between Sumanth and Eesha in the film, and it has been handled well, although it lacks zing. Eesha, on the other hand, becomes the link between Sumanth and Subrahmanyapuram. Although she does not quite change the course of the film, Eesha delivers a noteworthy presence, along with the three other actors who played Sumanth’s friends. The other major character in the film is that of Suresh, who plays an influential man in the village, and he makes you empathise with the fate of the villagers.
Despite having an exciting premise, the film takes way too much time before it shifts gears. Initially, we are told repeatedly that several villagers are committing suicide all of a sudden, and even after Karthik goes to the village, director Santhossh plays on this fear factor, without adding anything new to the story. It is only in the final act of the film that we come to know why people are dying and how that is linked to the temple. This segment of the film is quite interesting, and its link to the folklore of the temple is very well established. However, the film takes forever to reach this stage and you cannot help but wonder why the film missed a great opportunity. There is also something quite awkward about how scenes are staged, and at many places, it comes across more like a TV serial.