Inmai: Bhaya concerns the most primitive of our emotions, fear, as a woman is confronted by a strange man — and her past.
This review of Navarasa season 1, episode 7 for the short film Inmai: Bhaya contains spoilers. We discuss the ending.
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All emotions are universal, and Mani Ratnam’s Tamil-language anthology Navarasa has dealt with several. But the subject of the seventh, Inmai: Bhaya, is perhaps the most primitive and essential – fear. Opening with a standard thriller plot – a rich lady receives an unexpected visit from a man who isn’t who he claims – and descending into a web of folklore and mysticism while retaining the essential theme of never being able to outrun one’s past, it’s one of the better instalments in Navarasa, as well as perhaps the one most open to interpretation.
The rich lady, Wahida, is living in an expansive, art-festooned home decorated by her businessman husband’s money. Her visitor is Farooq, a charming calligrapher who she assumes works for her husband. He’s requesting she signs some papers, but the conversation turns quickly to other matters, and the tone becomes flirtatious. Before long, though, Wahida is tipped off to Farooq not being who he says, and flashbacks combined with dialogue help to flesh out the context around his visit.
Since Inmai: Bhaya flirts with supernaturalism, it’s a little more difficult to explain than most, and so spoilers begin here. Through the flashbacks, we learn that Wahida originally worked as a servant for an elderly man named Maraikkaya, who was suffering from a brain tumour. He falls for Wahida and she marries him, assuming, not unreasonably, that he’ll die soon. But he doesn’t. His excitement over the relationship seems to give him a new lease of life, and in her desperation, Wahida, being advised by her lover Anwar, turns to Hussein Hojja to summon a djinn to deal with Maraikkaya. It seems to work, and the old man dies.
Navarasa season 1, episode 7, Inmai: Bhaya ending explained
But the dark arts are complicated. Wahida was warned by Hojja that lying in order to secure the djinn’s services will be met with an inescapable punishment, and the implication is that Farooq is that djinn manifested as a human being, come to seek its revenge for Wahida’s deception. This terrifies Wahida. In a desperate sequence, she begs for forgiveness, reeling off all the good deeds she has supposedly performed since that time, in atonement for what she did. Eventually, though, frantic, she slashes her own throat. Farooq uses his calligraphy to sign the documents on her behalf, but he also explains the truth to her as she bleeds out on the floor.
See, there was never a djinn, not really. Maraikkayar’s love for Wahida acted as a placebo, giving him renewed energy while his tumour continued to eat away at him. Eventually, the hallucinations caused his death. But another of Maraikkayar’s servants, Jaffar, knew about Wahida’s plan to curse Maraikkayar, and so Wahida got him fired by accusing him of robbery. This disgrace was too much for an honest man to take, and he subsequently died of a heart attack. Farooq reveals himself to be Jaffar’s son.