After quite some time, the infamous Ram Gopal Varma brings us another one of his horror flicks. Apparently, this one is so bloodcurdling that the producers dared anyone to watch the film alone for a reward of 5 lakhs. Ah, the things we do for publicity! But is Phoonk, led by a relatively unknown cast, really all that scary? Horror films are uncommon in Hindi cinema to begin with, so when one rolls along, you really wonder whether it’s any good or not. But as a warning, do not read on if you are not interested in a few plot spoilers!
The plot revolves around Rajiv (Sudeep) who hires Anshuman (Kenny Desai) and the strange Madhu (Ashwini Kalsekar) for a contract relating to his construction company. Though what he does not know is that they are only cheating him out of his money. When Rajiv comes to know of this fraud, he fires them, humiliating them in front of everyone in a party. The two, especially Madhu, are feverish — they shout and scream and cry before finally leaving Rajiv alone so that he can hire someone else. Running parallel to these events is Rajiv’s atheistic beliefs that probe him to forbid the construction of a temple on his site where a symbol of God was allegedly found.
Through-out this process, the odd husband and wife pair, Anshuman and Madhu, decide to take revenge on Rajiv for his actions. They know how much he loves his daughter Raksha (Ahsaas Channa) and so they agree on torturing him. Using black magic they curse his daughter, wanting to kill her eventually.
So after going through the plot of RGV’s latest, you can tell it isn’t very meaty. It bothers me that our Indian filmmakers can’t get past the ‘kaala jadu’ and ‘drusht aatma’ stuff when making a horror film. Due to this, unfortunately, every horror flick has to be a painfully unbearable experience. But before we go there, we must recognize some great performances from the cast who are not very well-known.
Without a doubt, the film is superb when it comes to acting. As Rajiv, Southern star Sudeep is wonderful. He stays in character throughout and is able to portray the traits of a desperate father very well. Amruta as the mother is also pretty good. She fits her role well and justifies her character’s actions. The best of the lot is child actress Ahsaas Channa who plays the possesed Raksha. She really does have amazing acting skills and doesn’t disappoint even once. Ashwini is fantastic as the erratic and mysteriously frightening Madhu. Each scene with her sends a chill up your spine.
But unfortunately, even great performances can’t save a bad script. Before we get there, I do think RGV’s direction should be noticed. Clearly, he knows the camera and his actors very well. Even though the out-focusing shots had me annoyed after a while, Varma is a fine spine-tingling director.
The art direction of this film is a good attempt to make even the smallest things look freaky. The cinematography is an award-worthy masterstroke, even though the focus constantly changing gets on your nerves. It really provokes the chills that a horror film requires. Even the background score by Bapi-Tutul fits the situations very well.
After I’ve mentioned all this great stuff about the film, you may be wondering why I claim that it was a pain to watch. Simply, it was boring. I can praise the film technically for ages, but at the end of the day I want something to happen in the film that keeps me on the edge of my seat. But nothing did. It was always the same dark corners, heavy make up and overtly loud music. Come on, it’s time someone explored a new angle of horror films rather than resorting to the same old, same old formula.
In a nutshell, Phoonk is amazing — technically speaking! But it falls short of fulfilling the promises it has made for a bone-chilling horror flick. There is nothing unique about the film, even if it does have good art direction and fine performances. Everything is ‘been there, done that’ and nothing stays with you after the film is over. Even the story of someone getting possessed has been done over and over again around the world. Basically, as I said, it’s boring. Ram Gopal Varma has made a great attempt with Phoonk, but unfortunately he fails to go that extra mile.