Subhash K Jha: In Phoonk 2 you wonder what the fuss is about

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In one of his multitudinous interviews to promote this intended shiver giver Ram Gopal Varma said the scariest film he had seen in recent times was Karan Johar’s Kabhie Alvida Na Kehna.

Now that’s a scary thought. Because Johar’s film didn’t belong to the horror genre. Phoonk 2 does. And it is definitely NOT the scariest film we’ve seen. Varma’s terror theme has clearly run its course. What we see here are the remnants of another Friday. And definitely not Friday The 13th.

Perched somewhere between crowing (ahem ahem) about the supernatural and crying over the nerve-wracking disruption of domestic harmony by a ghost which just won’t go away, Phoonk 2 is like that promised rollercoaster ride which gets aborted in the first lap because of a short circuit.

It’s not really Varma or his director Milind Gadkar’s fault. It’s the nature of the material. Ram Gopal Varma’s love for horror has never extended beyond the there’s-something-under-the-bed kind of unwarranted foreboding that we all feel in a new environment. In a majority of his horror films a family moves into a new haunted home and experiences the eerie.

Ironically, Varma’s best effort in the horror genre was Kaun where the victim of terror (Urmila Matondkar) was stalked by unseen forces in her own familiar home. The terror, it turned out was not under the bed, but in the mentally disturbed girl’s head.

There wasn’t much terror let alone horror in Phoonk. Under the bed, or in the head. In Phoonk 2 the characters’ screeching plea to have us believe they are under immediate peril is sadly not communicated to the viewers. We remain tragically detached from the trauma of Kannada star Sudeep’s family.

Haven’t we seen it all? By now the trademark Varma camera movements, here manoeuvred with emphatic energy by cinematographer Charles Meher, and the intricate cluttured but effective sound design (Jayesh Dhakkan and Jayant Vajpayee) do nothing to suck us into the plot.

The technique remains unfastened to the characters. Their desperate attempts to get away from the supernatural remain desperately detached from the audience. At the end of the 2-hours into the zone of error-terror we are left wondering why Varma threw open a contest inviting any viewer to undergo an ECG to check his heartbeats.

It is this film that needs a respiratory system. Varma’s last horror outing Agyaat with its spooky ominous wide-open jungles was far more gripping. In Phoonk 2 you wonder what the fuss is about. These people have nothing to fear except fear itself.

And yes, Ramu was right. The crow does come up with the best performance. And that’s nothing to crow about.

Rating: **

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