Pari movie cast: Anushka Sharma, Parambrata Chatterjee, Rajat Kapoor, Ritabhari Chakraborty, Mansi Multani
Pari movie director: Prosit Roy
Pari movie rating: One star
That this is an anti-fairy tale we know because the tagline tells us so. But Pari, which styles itself as a supernatural horror flick, takes the burden of its song very seriously indeed: right from the beginning, and in almost every frame subsequently, there is darkness, evil, blood, Satanists, satanic verses, bruised women in chains and men with hacksaws. It’s all drummed in. That’s your supernatural part.
The horror part of it unspools right alongside. Thunder, lightning, rain, women in black robes with rotten skulls for faces, noises off, creaking doors. What you don’t get, in all this blood-and-gore and groan-and-moan and slash-and-burn, is a film.
By the time we begin piecing the pieces, it’s well past the half-way mark. And then, very rapidly, Pari becomes all exposition and explanation. We start getting answers to why the mysterious Rukhsana ( Sharma) who emerges from a hut by a swamp in a forest (yes, all those things in a row) behaves the way she does, why Arnab (Chatterjee) feels like he owes her something, and why the two of them seem to constantly be swimming through murk, why a man with a damaged eye (Kapoor) shows up with a bunch of his weapon-bearing men.
But the whole enterprise never rises above its silliness. The plot, trying desperately for gravitas by referencing certain yesteryear events in Bangladesh, without really giving us a credible reason, never hangs together, never feels true. Mumbo jumbo about ‘ifrits’ (evil spirits) is bunged in, and a lot of blood is let. By the end of it, a good couple of quarts of the red stuff have been spilled, but instead of scary, it’s all too dreary.
Is anyone fully wicked? Conversely, is anyone really all good? And cannot love conquer all? If the film had been able to incorporate the ideas that it throws up, Pari may have had something to say. But it doesn’t.
Anushka Sharma plays Rukhsana with a great deal of bloody enthusiasm. You cannot accuse her of not trying hard, but the film is so poorly-written, and so scatter-brained that nothing can rescue it, not even a leading lady who is determined to do something different with her producing heft. Poor Parambrata Chatterjee is left trying to hold up the story, such as it is, and is the only one left standing.
In Sharma’s previous effort, we met cheery ghosts (Phillauri). And now, it is evil spirits. She clearly wants to break out and do something unconventional, but this is not it. How about plain ol’ humans the next time around?