Hindi horror films have often got the rap for being unintentionally funny with their terrible acting, overload of creaky door sounds and evil men parading in bad prosthetic make-up.
Pari, the supernatural thriller starring Anushka Sharma and Parambrata Chatterjee with an 18+ rating in the UAE, doesn’t suffer from those near-fatal flaws.
Be warned though, it’s heavy on the gore with its bloody twists. But it doesn’t bore you. As far as atmospherics go, the incessant grey pallor with heavy rains throughout the film create the perfect setting for doom and gloom.
Directed by newcomer Prosit Roy, the monster-meets-mortal romance begins on an innocent note with Parambrata Chatterjee’s introverted character subjecting himself to an arranged marriage set-up where he’s getting to know the prospective bride. But on their way back, their car, driven by his father, hits an old woman, and that sets the film in motion.
In the interest of not revealing too many spoilers, let’s cut to the performances.
Sharma, who plays the uncivilised Rukhsana, is in top form as a modern-day feral Mowgli. Her introductory scenes are shockingly real and send a chill down our spine. She must take a bow for getting her hands dirty, literally, in this one. Without a scratch of make-up on, she’s at once vulnerable, vile and vicious. Chatterjee is a quiet presence, but he still manages to leave a lasting impression.
This film is well-cast with actors such as Rajat Kapoor, the leader of a doomsday movement — a controversial group that takes pride in exorcism. Their methods of annihilating evil are visually graphic and therefore disturbing, but credit has to be given to the director for not holding back. Here’s a horror film that isn’t subtle — every gory twist is laid out in front of our eyes. Is it necessary? Not always. But do you look away? No.
Pari is the cinematic equivalent of a driver rubber-necking when there’s an accident on the road. You know you must look away, but you just can’t help yourself from turning your neck to the site of the accident. It’s compelling, but leaves you eventually disturbed.
While Sharma and Chatterjee make an unlikely pair, their relationship trajectory isn’t wholly believable. You are not alone if you feel dubious at the romantic twists in this horror film.
The first half of Pari, which means angel, seems to suffer from schizophrenia with its attempt to blend romance into a plot that’s decidedly dark and ghoulish. In a perfect demonic world, there’s no space for a romantic song, but the makers of Pari march ahead and still stick in a song anyway. However, the director seems to get his command back in the second half as its morbidity quotient goes up. There are twists that aren’t predictable, but the climax suffers from a touch of unnecessary melodrama.
Kapoor as the determined exorcist isn’t an easy man to like, but that’s his victory in such a film. Watch this if you are in the mood for a gore-filled horror film.
Cast: Anushka Sharma Kohli, Parambrata Chatterjee and Rajat Kapoor
Director: Prosit Roy
Rating: 18 plus
Stars: 3 out of 5