Open Secret

The foolproof way to make sure you stay on the top is,cue appropriate ghostly sound effects,‘kaala jaadu’.

Written by Shubhra Gupta | Published: September 8, 2012 12:37:49 am

Raaz 3

DIRECTOR: Vikram Bhatt

CAST: Emraan Hashmi,Bipasha Basu,Esha Gupta

Rating: **

Do you know the best way to grind a rival into dust? Hard work? No. Perseverance? No. Staying at it? Don’t be naive. All that is for losers. The foolproof way to make sure you stay on the top is,cue appropriate ghostly sound effects,‘kaala jaadu’.

Or at least that’s what the desperate Shanaya (Basu) believes,when new heroine-on-the-block Sanjana (Gupta) starts to get ahead. Nothing that friend and lover and director of her films Aditya (Hashmi) can do is enough to console her. Shanaya wants Sanjana out of her way at any cost. And she finds an answer in ‘black magic’.

Bhatt’s an old hand at horror,going back and forth in time,doing Victorian and contemporary,and,on occasion,medieval. Here,he sticks to the here and now,making Bollywood the backdrop: the film industry,going by scores of unpublished,ear-scorching accounts,is the place where anything can happen. So we are quite prepared to believe that Shanaya’s bitterness and envy has caused her to come unhinged,and her passes at the guy who hands her the tools for Sanjana’s destruction,lead to a couple of shivery moments in the first half.

The second half goes just the way so many films do: down the chute. Or,in the instance of Raaz 3,in that ‘in between place which are inhabited by pret-aatmas. Right there,the little bit of frisson that the film managed to garner vanishes,maybe in that self-same place. Out come all the sadhus and babas with their mantras,and the bhagwaan ki moorti,and it all boils down to the same old battle against good and evil,borrowing from older horror tropes from here and there.

Not only are the lines unintentionally hilarious,the characters are too. Especially the supporting cast,which ranges from a ‘psychiatrist’ who is made to say: “usko itna sadma pahuncha hai,woh to coma mein chali gayi hai” (so strong was the shock,she’s gone into a coma); a sorcerer with knowledge of kaala jaadu whose pupil meets with a nasty end,a murderous aatma who has the hots for a live woman,and so on. Excuse me while I choke.

As to the main leads,Bipasha being bad should have led to something. But neither she nor the relative newbie Gupta,who teeters between getting somewhere with saying her lines and flubbing them,are anything but gym-toned clothes-horses. Poor Emraan Hashmi pendulums between both,and tries hard to look all serious and buttoned down. But hold,maybe he’s not so poor at all: he gets to smooch not one but two lovelies. And that,dear readers,is not a raaz at all.

shubhra.gupta@expressindia.com

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