May 11, 2011 7:40:04 pm
Wanted: More scares
Mahaakshay Chakraborty,Tia Bajpai,Achint Kaur,Arif Zakaria,Mohan Kapoor,Sanjay Sharma
Rehaan (Mahaakshay Chakraborty) is at Glen Manor in the hill-station of Ooty to finalise its sale as his fathers agent. Or he thinks that he has come for that. But a chillum-smoking mendicant (Sanjay Sharma) tells him mysteriously that he is there for a higher purpose. The mansion is possessed by an evil spirit,and its dead victims try to send messages that at first are incomprehensible to Rehaan. And Rehaans ordained job is to free the mansion from the scourge that has afflicted it for 80 years.
Rehaan realises that he is not alone in the mansion but is gutsy enough to try and find out the truth. As he momentarily glimpses a severed head in a dustbin,a body hanging from the ceiling,a ghostly woman warbling on a piano who is seen through a door but disappears when he opens it,blood-splattered hands on glass doors and other such horror regulars,he pieces together what happened long ago in that place from a suicide note and the mendicants help.
Post-interval,the film gets down to business,the agenda being the destruction of the evil spirit and the liberation of chief (dead,not living) victim Meera (Tia Bajpai). There are a few classic horror props the priest,a dargah,the ghost taking possession of a human being and so on,and then an extended climax. In a welcome departure,the routine climax is compensated by a fresh and logical post-climactic resolution.
Haunted has strengths and weaknesses in equal measure when the former attribute could have been much,much stronger. Its chief attraction is Stereoscopic 3-D (which means that the film is shot in that format and not converted after a normal 2-D format shoot into 3-D),which has never been seen with any Indian film before. Pravin Bhatts splendid camerawork is heightened by Brent Robinsons stereography and the period as well as mood production design by veteran R.Verman is outstanding.
Director Vikram Bhatt,who has now mastered the horror genre with Raaz,1920 and Shaapit (though the last-mentioned film was bogged down by many factors) capitalises on Ootys landscapes to create a chilling atmosphere both in the 2011 and 1931 segments. Raju Raos background score is an asset and Amin Hajees fast-paced script keeps us generally rivetted despite some slow moments in the script,especially in the first half. Mahaakshay is generally okay but must work on more variety in facial expressions he was raw but more animated in Jimmy. Tia Bajpai is competent for a debut performer. From the supporting cast,Achint Kaur and Sanjay Sharma,who is aptly mysterious,are good.
And now for the weaknesses that could have really been avoided: the songs are mediocre. The tradition of hit music in a horror movie ended ironically with Bhatts own Raaz in 2002,which explains why no horror film has been a blockbuster since. Bhatts own films,horror or otherwise,have seen a sharp and avoidable slump in musical calibre since Raaz and Aetbaar.
Even more importantly,the climax over-stretched by a good 15 minutesthough conventionally scary,could have been stronger and scarier. 3-D in a horror movie has to be justified by much more than the kind of visuals we anyway get to see in a normal film. Shrieks and screams in the movie-hall should be a norm in the third dimension as the technique can really be used to vicariously frighten the viewer,maybe with gruesome objects coming near! But the the way the few horrific visions in this film have been shot. they would have been equally scary in any 2-D movie,defeating the efforts and expenses taken.
Still the novelty factor and the freshness in the plot should get the film good business.
One star for the technical brilliance; one for the fresh plot and one for the sincerity of the lead artistes.
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