Director Terrie Samundra seems to be cashing on the trend of incorporating a social message into horror, but fails completely
This is the in-thing. Take a socially relevant theme and fuse it into horror and suspense. Now, there isn’t a problem here. Problem arises in situations like Kaali Khuhi when neither are you scared in the drama nor you feel connected with the social message. What point does it serve then, is a matter of grave pondering.
Watch the trailer here:
An aloof village is terrified by a spirit of a young girl, who has come from the dead due to something terrible that happened in the village many years ago, as a result of a custom
The story and screenplay is by Samundra and David Walter Lech. The dialogues are penned by Rupinder Inderjeet. The plot is wafer thin. There is absolutely nothing in the content that keeps you invested. Talking of horror, the film falls flat as their are only two (you can count) scenes where you feel a jerk, not even a proper chill. The entire film tries to spook you and it keeps trying till the end credits roll. There are tropes used for this of course- a village that makes you question the people there as to why have they inhabited such a mundane place. It is vacant, deserted, and sinister. If you think these are good techniques to create fear, you are wrong. It evokes cringe, rather than fear.
The social message used in the film is eternally strong. You can’t credit makers for taking it as the key subject and handling it whichever way the makers have done it. Secondly, the manner in which it comes in the film never makes you root for it. It’s something like ‘yeah, there is this bad happening in the society, yeah so it’s okay’ and you choose to walk away. There is absolute zero impact.
Things only happen randomly for the major portion of the film and since you know it’s horror and suspense, you wait for that big revelation. When it finally happens, not only do you receive it plain faced but it remains far from hitting you even an inch. To add to the woes are unnecessary VFX and a concept of going back in time in an attempt to symbolically convey the message. Give it to the makers here- they have tried hard. But none of their ideas hold merit here.
Not that the film is utterly bad. There are good things in the form of immersive cinematography and smart production design by a National Award Winner. Performances too are decent. The best part ofcourse is the runtime at 90mins. Had the film been a little longer, you would have died yourself along with the creatures in the film.
Shabana Azmi does fine. Only fine. Don’t blame her. We know what powerhouse of talent she is. Here the writing is the culprit, to an extent that even an actor of her calibre couldn’t save the narrative.
Leela Samson has a small role and she is also just okay. Sanjeeda Sheikh has a well carved role and she does fine with the points given to her. Again, it’s the weak characterisation that her character after a point becomes insignificant.
Satyadeep Misra does very good with his character. He has shades in his role and her performs nicely.
Riva Arora is the star of the film, hands down. She proves yet again that she is well capable of matching senior and mature actors. Hetvi Bhanushali and Rose Rathod are also decent.
The music by Daniel B George is average. It doesn’t do the needful for the film and its positioning. The film doesn’t make any impact, the blame of which also goes to the inefficient music and sound design by Sohel Sanwari.
Cinematography by Sejal Shah is what makes the film watchable. The careful and thoughtful use of colours in lighting makes it for an engaging experience. It also feel royal. Production design by Angela Monica Bhowmick is also very good. Of course the sets, colours, locations, spaces created are very good. But due to the flaws in the basic concept, the sets never really hover over you.
Editing by Sanyukta Kaza is just okay, nothing good about it. Here also, the editor isn’t to be blamed. The flow is still fine and for the runtime, you don’t get bored. Only thing- the script doesn’t give the scope for any better.
This is a film that can be easily avoided. People who watch cinema for aesthetics and technicalities are still very few. This one won’t find takers.
Rochak Saxena a Mass Media Teacher, former journalist at DNA and an ardent lover of Hindi films - literally. The blog derives its name from the popular term ‘Willing Suspension of Disbelief’, most commonly used in the world of literature and cinema. Meaning to immerse yourself in an unreal world (where you know what you see on screen is fake) with a self-proclaimed/declared belief/wish to consider it real, the willing world becomes magical. It’s the same magic every Friday that drives Rochak to share things in the perspective that it needs to be observed with. Every film is different. And the difference needs to be cherished.