Director: Prosit Roy
Duration: 2 hours, 15 minutes
When a guilt-ridden Arnab decides to shelter Ruksana at his home, nurture her back to health till he can make alternative arrangements for the vulnerable girl, he realizes there is more to her than what meets the eye. Then on starts a spooky tale, which reveals Ruksana’s intentions as they start to materialize.
Horror movies have been doled out by the dozen for Indian audiences, right from when moviemakers gave a serious thought to occult as a genre of filmmaking. Many directors brought in refreshing scarefests, like Kamal Amrohi gave us ‘Mahal’, Ram Gopal Varma had ‘Raat’ and ‘Bhoot’ to spook us out and Vikram Bhatt had ‘Raaz’ and ‘1920’ to offer. And amid the slew of “funny-scary” films that followed these masterpieces, comes Anushka Sharma’s pet project ‘Pari’, which centres on an abuse victim, who is more than just a defenseless girl.
The film begins with a car travelling through the jungles during a heavy downpour in the dead of one night, carrying a family, returning from the prenuptials of their son. (And if these factors have scared you enough, hold on to your seats!) The discomforting silence is broken by an abrupt halt and the family finds out that an old burqa-clad woman has been killed. They hesitantly go out to investigate and find a tattered and battered girl Ruksana (Anushka Sharma) in chains in an isolated cabin in the woods.
Quickly realizing that she is the daughter of the deceased woman, a guilt-ridden Arnab (Parambrata Chatterjee) decides to bring her home and help her in completing with the formalities required at the morgue, since the police have called it suicide. Arnab also chooses to find an alternative arrangement for Ruksana for her betterment; but then, eerie things start to happen once the strange, feral girl begins living among humans in their happy world.
While the benevolent Arnab goes out of his way to provide for Ruksana, she develops strong feelings for the betrothed man and things go haywire when his wife-to-be, Piyali (Ritabhari Chakraborty) comes into the picture. Also, across India’s right hand side border, a group of hacksaw-wielding men, led by an evil one-eyed Professor (Rajat Kapoor), is trying to get inside on a witch-hunting mission. What follows is a twisted tale of spiteful ghouls and a vengeance-seeking protagonist, who won’t spare anyone that comes in between.
The film tries to touch upon the topic of Ifrit, considered to be one of the most malevolent djinns in Middle Eastern literature. Ifrit wants to continue his bloodline and in this case, Peri or Pari is his child. The movie also brings in the angle of Bangladeshi refugees, but doesn’t quite explain their intentions well. The film is shot extensively in dark blue and sepia tones that add to the chills. The background is mostly silent, only to be filled up with high-pitched shrieks and melancholic sounds, providing the necessary thrills at regular intervals. The gloomy and spooky characters keep sending shivers down the spine intermittently.
Anushka Sharma’s second occult outing after ‘Phillauri’ is totally opposite to it and ‘Pari’ does manage to scare the daylights out of the audiences. Some scenes are so well written and executed that they actually make your heart leap in fear! However, its narrative is a bit skewed, for we don’t get to know Ruksana’s and Professor’s intentions until the mid-second half. Also, the climax is dragged for no reason. ‘Pari’ is touted as being different from the regular chillfests but it does border on the clichéd at times.
Despite all that, Anushka Sharma is in top form. She fills the screen with her ominous look and creepy act and deserves applause for getting into the skin of a character, which top actresses would only refuse. Parambrata Chatterji, who wowed us in ‘Kahaani’, is superlative yet again and we cannot help but appreciate his talent. Rajat Kapoor is good and so is Ritabhari Chakraborty in her quick role.
All in all, apart for the few mistakes made here and there, Prosit Roy’s debut directorial ‘Pari’ is a delightfully scary film that does not go overboard with its storytelling and is worth a dekho.
Eventznu Rates Pari – * * ½