After comedy, if there’s one genre that Indian film-makers have time and again tried to explore and master, it’s horror. Just a week after Vikram Bhatt’s horror product Haunted 3D, comes Ekta’s spooky flick Ragini MMS. While the title initially made the viewers think of it as a sex-based movie, the promos made it evident later that it also had a paranormal angle attached to it. Supposedly based on a true incident, Ekta tries to bring to Indian audiences a horror story in a different outlook. So does she succeed?
First the story. Without doubt taking its inspiration majorly from Hollywood’s Paranormal Activity and to an extent from The Blair Witch Project and Ekta’s own Love, Sex aur Dhoka (LSD), Ragini MMS is basically about a couple’s weekend getaway gone horribly wrong. Uday (Rajkumar Yadav) and Ragini (Kainaz Motivala) decide to go to a friend’s farmhouse for a dirty intimate weekend but what she doesn’t know is that what she considers as a romantic getaway is actually a plan by her boyfriend to film a sex tape in return for a role in a movie. But before he can make use of the house rigged with hidden cameras, they come across a supernatural existence hell-bent on torturing them to death.
Shot with a handheld camera and hidden cameras, the innovative way of filming manages to add spook to the movie. You just don’t know which camera might detect the presence of the ghost and that does manage to keep you on the edge of your seat. Twenty –four different cameras have been used for filming purposes and the film has been shot from many angles. Tribhuvan Babu deserves an applause for his cinematography. As far as the story goes, there really isn’t much in the first place and the setup for the film is definitely not original. But the performances manage to compensate for that. In line with recent movies which have managed to work despite weak scripts due to good performances, here too the lead pair impress the viewers and critics alike. Rajkumar Yadav pretty much plays the same character he did in his segment in LSD, a weak man out to exploit his girlfriend. As the rustic desi guy who doesn’t mind using swear words and yelling at his timid girlfriend whenever angry but gets scared to death when he detects a spirit, Yadav is truly great. Watch out for the scenes when he realizes that there is a ghost in the house. Yadav also manages to make you laugh with his comic antics and cheesy dialogues and some of the scenes where he gets really scared are intentionally funny.
Many sex-based movies use the female leads only for skin-show, which is where Kainaz comes as a pleasant surprise. Although she does have to perform intimate scenes in the movie (which are thankfully not crass), she gets to show here acting skills as well. As the naive trusting girlfriend who gets into deeper trouble because of being handcuffed to the bed (in an attempt to get kinky), her situation manages to send chills down your spine. The movie is basically centered on these two leads and the few extra characters manage to do justice to their part as well.
Apart from acting if there are two things that a horror movie would definitely need they are good special effects and sound effects. The good part is that unlike a bad Ramsay movie, you do not have a ghost in white sari and long loose hair, although we must say that the ‘chudail’ (witch) looked tacky enough. Nevertheless it doesn’t try to force in unnecessary effects and that works to its advantage. Silence is often a strong tool for evoking fear as compared to loud sounds and this has been used effectively here. Faizan-Agnel’s background score fluctuates from total silence to loud sound and is successful in really scaring you – imagine you are staring at footage from twenty-four different cameras, there is total silence, you don’t know which footage might detect any paranormal activity when suddenly the background score manages to point out one. Scary, isn’t it? Though the script doesn’t waste time in projecting the presence of a ghost and her torments you can’t help but feel the second half dragging a bit. Pooja Ladha Surti, Tushar Shivanand Rajesh Panchal’s editing, though good, could have been better. For a debut, Pavan Kirpalani’s
direction is pretty good and does justice to the relatively new concept of filming horror movie in
India, although we do wish that he had more grip on the story post interval.
What’s so special about this horror flick apart from the way it has been shot? The fact that it doesn’t follow most Indian formulae for horror flicks works immensely in its favor. For starters, we don’t find the characters fighting the fact that there could be a ghost till the very end where she herself comes in front of them to narrate her past. Neither do we have elaborate flashbacks stating why is the ghost behaving that way (although they did find it necessary to give fleeting references to that). The male lead isn’t someone who bravely tries to hunt down the spirit but is someone who gets shit scared by the happenings around him and that makes his character more acceptable. Unlike most Indian horror movies, this movie isn’t about how the ghost is found and destroyed, it is basically about how the character tries to escape from the paranormal happenings around her. So while it may not be something totally new, the movie does manage to stay away from some clich