GAME OVER: an allegory of Pac-Man

It’s difficult to put a label over Game Over whose defining aspects happen to be its multiple genre labels – hence, different genre labels shouldn’t pose difficulty while reading instead spike curiosity. There’s Karthik Subbaraj’s Pizza (2012) which re-defined horror storytelling, and now it’s Ashwin Saravanan’s Game Over which re-defines psychological storytelling in Indian Cinema. Ashwin Saravanan’s Game Over tickles the wit leading to a cinematic orgasm of sorts which by the discomforting closure evoked Albert Einstein’s famous quote, “Life is just a game. First, you have to learn the rules of the game, and then play it better than anyone else.”

Sapna (Taapsee Pannu), a nyctophobic and a compulsive video gamer has to fight her inner demons to stay alive in the game called life. Writers Ashwin Saravanan and Kaavya Ramkumar pen a broadly imaginative and an innovative thriller which fights with the inner demons in an unconventional manner; its unconventionality lies with the multiple layers and in open interpretation aspect. Game Over subjugates itself more in the subtext than the visuals, it compels to “read” the film rather than watch it. For instance, the narrative is structured and based on Pac-Man which also stands as an allegory, it’s a choice for the audience to decipher the proceedings as dream, reality or just a game, there’s no justification for the motifs of the killers, it’s all about surviving – but, amidst all reading, brutality against women is compared with cancer is the strongest and stings the most leading to an emotional connect. Revealing more will spoil the experience. What if life is a video game and déjà vu are just checkpoints!, the signboard gives another dimension on the lines of Run Lola Run (1998) whose famous repetitive narrative, here finds variations of the results.Game Over isn’t just for the cinematic voyagers seeking and reading the subtext, but also for the normal audience, for whom it still remains a gripping edge-of-the-seat thriller – where the subtext is subdued for survival. Game Over isn’t devoid of drawbacks, even though it runs only at 103 minutes it has pre-climax pacing issues but never mind when the experience is so enriching and interesting. Its proximity, similarity or rather inspiration with Run Lola Run, Kaun (1999), Phobia (2016), Mother (2017) or Black Mirror doesn’t water down the impact of its compelling vision. “The demons are innumerable, appear at the most inconvenient times, and create panic and terror. But I have learned that if I can master the negative forces and harness them to my chariot, then they can work to my advantage,” exclaims Filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, Sapna lives up to his words and storms at the demons. And while watching the protagonist fight back physically, psychologically as well as figuratively tightens the experience, the battle with the inner demons intensifies the experience. Ashwin Saravanan steps away from any stereotypical element and predictability by investing innovations like Immortal Inks, where tattoo becomes a source of soul encroachment.

Game Over’s brownie points rely heavily upon Cinematographer A Vasanth’s eye-catchy and ambient frames which engulf the audience into the gaming zone. Ron Ethan Yohann’s unsettling BGM is one of the major technical highlights which propels the experience while Editor Richard Kevin’s razor-sharp editing materializes the tautness.Taapsee Pannu. While watching Game Over, there were comprehensive thoughts about Taapsee’s absorption of characters in her recent outings such as Mulk (2018), Manmarziyaan (2018) as well as Pink (2016) displaying strength while being vulnerably challenged. As Sapna, she reckons with a determined performance and poignantly carries the film on her shoulders for the whole 103 minutes. Vinodhini Vaidyanathan lends strong support as Kalamma while Parvathi T strikes emotional chords in a limited role.

Life is an allegory of Pac-Man, it’s not just a maze game anymore – it’s a fight against brutality inflicted on women and storming back. Experiencing ingenious writing over distinct weekends ignites and propels the cinematic voyage, Cinema isn’t merely for entertainment. And a well-crafted film like Game Over takes over the visual language, finds solace in auditory design and speaks figuratively is definitely one of the best thrillers of 2019!

Language: Bilingual – Tamil and Telugu
Release: 14 June, 2019

Copyright ©2019 Ninad Kulkarni. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.


3 thoughts on “GAME OVER: an allegory of Pac-Man

Add yours

  1. Brilliant review as usual! I’ve become a huge fan of your writing. I liked your observation that brutality against women was likened to cancer in the movie.
    I have a theory for the appearance of Swapna’s tattoos. I realized the connection between Swapna and Amudha runs more than bone-deep. Amudha also had three tattoos (hearts). She beat cancer three times, and each time she paid a visit to the tattoo center to get a new tattoo done, representing a new life earned. Now when Amudha’s ashes are inadvertently transferred to Swapna, it was not just her fighting spirit and other qualities that got infused into Swapna, but also the three lives she had earned.
    Would be interested to know your thoughts about it.
    Full Post:


    1. Thank you for the kind appreciation! And that’s an interesting viewpoint about the tattoos, the crucial lifelines variable with Pac-Man. Meanwhile, Director Ashwin Saravanan will be on #AskBR on Film Companion South answering audience questions regarding the film.

      Liked by 1 person

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