Game Over is a brilliant, multi-layered psychological thriller that also expects its audience to fill in quite a few blanks. While the movie’s core message of learning to face our fears is rather explicit and is excellently driven home by a gritty Tapsee, the movie’s supernatural elements are a bit unclear and are left to be extrapolated by the audience. It was while trying to unravel the many layers in the movie, both psychological and supernatural, that I stumbled upon a startling theory that allowed me to appreciate the movie a lot better. In this article, I try to answer two burning questions that I had after watching the movie.
Recap: Game Over follows the life of Swapna (Tapsee), a video-game designer, and largely plays out like an actual video game. In addition to the constant video game references, it’s one of the many analogies in the movie that ‘life is a video game‘. Swapna’s own life can also be interpreted as a version of Pac-Man, the classic arcade game that she is addicted to.
How do you explain the extra tattoos (lives) that magically appear and disappear?
The movie’s final arc is similar to movies such as Edge of Tomorrow and Source Code, with Swapna being granted three lives just like Pac-Man. Till this point in the movie, the supernatural element is only hinted – by Ramya’s foreboding explanation of ‘memorial tattoos’ and the prickling of Swapna’s tattoo (a heart encircling a joystick) whenever she is in one of her more suicidal moods. It suddenly takes a more central role on that fateful night when the mysterious serial killer(s) come to murder her. In a seemingly inexplicable turn of events, her tattoos multiply into three, implying the three lives/hearts she has remaining. It was when I was trying to puzzle this out that I realized the connection between Swapna and Amudha runs more than bone-deep.
If you remember, Amudha also has three tattoos (hearts). She is a cancer survivor who managed to beat the disease three times, and it was after each of these instances that she paid a visit to the tattoo center (rather chilling called Immortal Inks) 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 hinted by her mother that got infused into Swapna, but also the three lives she had earned. You could argue as to why it didn’t take effect earlier (i.e. the tattoos didn’t multiply), but my hunch is that it may have been dormant so long and was triggered only after the visit from Amudha’s mother. When you connect the concept of the three lives gifted by Amudhu to Swapna to battle her demons, with an earlier scene when a stricken Swapna bemoans her inability to change her past since she has only one chance, it’s almost poetic.
Life is a video game and déjà vu is just checkpoints.
How do you explain Swapna’s ‘checkpoint’?
The second puzzle in the movie is the ‘checkpoint’, the moment when Swapna wakes up every time she gets killed. While both Edge of Tomorrow and Source Code had a hard reset with the characters starting afresh every single time, the clock merely goes back to 11 PM on New Year’s Eve in Game Over. The timing of the checkpoint is actually not that random if you come to think about it. It’s the exact time of the year when Swapna suffered a traumatic incident the year before. In another gaming analogy, the final hour of the year can also represent the final countdown of the hardest stage in the game’s current level, with the New Year signaling a new level/beginning. Similarly, the three killers, who remain faceless throughout the movie, could be the embodiment of the three ghosts from Pac-Man that Swapna keeps trying to escape from. From a traumatic past to successfully banishing her demons, the movie truly comes full circle and marks a fitting end to Swapna’s story.