Horror is a genre that has not been given the respect it deserves when it comes to the Hindi film industry. When we look back at the ridiculous films that some filmmakers have tried to pass off as horror, the audience clearly cannot be blamed.
The trailer of Anushka Sharma’s Pari did offer lovers of the genre some hope but the makers should have called it a supernatural thriller instead. While the film does deliver for the most part, it doesn’t give you nightmares like the somewhat misleading seven screamers (teasers) did.
The film starts with Arnab (Parambrata Chatterjee) and his family accidentally running down a woman in the interiors of Kolkata. They go to the police who find out that the woman, who is now dead, had a small hut where she kept her daughter, Ruksana (Anushka Sharma), chained.
Feeling sorry for her, Arnab tries to help Ruksana and lets her stay with him when she says there are people trying to kill her. As the bond between the two grows, the story meanders into Ruksana’s existence being connected to Ifrit (evil God) and why a one-eyed Bangladeshi professor (Rajat Kapoor) wants to kill her. Whether or not he manages to do that and how Ruksana and her character unravel in this gory situation forms the crux of the story.
Directed by debutant Prosit Roy, the film might not scare you as much as it will keep you on the edge of your seat. Sharma, who is the lead actress and producer of the film, should be applauded for essaying a role no mainstream actress would have even considered. The main problem with Pari is the predictability of the storyline.
While the first half gives you a few chills, the second half is a series of predictable sequences. In fact, you are inured to the scary elements as the film inches towards its climax.
The script, with its influx of evil spirits, jinns, satanic rituals and witch hunters, is a strong one, giving the Indian audience something they have longed to see on the home front. But the story is just too predictable. Also unfortunate is the climax, which has been given a Bollywood tone. And the only song in the film adds no value to the movie, rather dropping the tempo for a bit.
An interesting aspect of Pari is that it blurs the lines between good and bad. It shows that some people who have the right intention can go about things in the worst possible way while others, who are controlled by their origins, struggle to become better souls.
Background score plays an especially important role in the horror thriller genre, and thanks to Ketan Sodha, the surprise elements scare you more than the ghostly ones. The crisp editing of the scary sequences has been phenomenally executed by editor Manas Mittal. Cinematographer Jishnu Bhattacharjee takes you to the dark side through his lens and makes it the best part of the movie. And lastly, the visual effects play a key role in taking the story to its true strength.
For his first directorial, Roy has delivered adequately. While he has tried to steer clear of the old textbook myths of Indian horror films, he could have added some more elements to the story to make it an edge-of-the-seat horror movie. And as for producer Anushka Sharma, it is a good attempt.
Performance-wise, leading lady Anushka Sharma plays her part exceedingly well. Actor Parambrata Chatterjee holds his own as the token nice guy. Rajat Kapoor’s evil expressions are on point just like his subtle performance. Ritabhari Chakraborty is average. Mansi Multani is good.