Writer and Director: Vijay Jayapal
This low-level horror from India about a manager of a tourist retreat in the mountains begins intriguingly but it quickly runs out of steam. Reminiscent of 1970s’ movies, Nirvana Inn keeps too much back from the audience and the result makes for frustrating viewing.
Jogi arrives at the retreat, consisting of a few chalets and a restaurant, with little luggage, and he hardly fills the wardrobe in the room he’s been assigned. But he’s brought the past with him and at night dreams of a boat capsizing, a boat that he appears to be piloting. He wakes to hear a beast prowling on the roof, but he’s too scared to investigate any further.
The days don’t fare well either, and the guests that check into the resort take on the appearance of ghosts and a masked man then begins to follow him everywhere. The series of strange incidents and the appearance of mysterious people continue at such a pace that it detracts rather than adds to the paranoid atmosphere that director Vijay Jayapal is so keen to foster.
Everyone walks around in such a daze, that it’s hard to care for a single character, including Jogi who, otherwise, is at the heart of the story. As Jogi, Adil Hussain has to do most of the heavy lifting in this old-fashioned movie, being humble in front of his boss and customers and scared when the nighttime noises start. But Yogi remains an enigma and the fact that he was once a brilliant bhaona dancer is a strand of the plot that seems under-developed.
Equally as shadowy is Mohini who turns up one night wanting a job, and who ends up being the film’s femme fatale, seducing both men and women for no apparent reason. Rajshri Despande tries her best but too often she has no other direction than to look moody. The other characters trudge around as if they are zombies or drunk, with only Jogi’s boss appearing to be from the real world.
We see hardly anything of the Himalayas, and instead the action takes place in scree-filled valleys, or thick forests. The clean shots of smooth blue water come as a relief when so many scenes are filmed in semi-darkness, but even these can’t make up for the slow-moving story.
There can only be one ending, but it does little to shift the film’s horror credentials into a deeper examination of guilt. Other films have managed this dual responsibility better and at least Final Destination made the journey fun. Nirvana Inn brings little enlightenment.
The UK Asian Film Festival runs nationwide and online from 26 May until 6 June 2021