Pari Review: Thrill-a-minute

It’s 2018, horror films are like a joyride. You know the basic concept, you know where the jump-thrills will be and everyone will have an opinion about whether the ride is a good deal or not. You are taking the ride for the experience and if it’s a changing experience for you, all the better. Is Anushka Sharma’s Pari that life changing experience, or just something that you grin, bear and then forget? Read my complete review.

Arnab (Parambrata Chaterjee) is a soon to be married young man. Even as he begins to weave dreams of love with his fiance Piyali (Ritabhari Chaterjee), a mysterious woman, Ruksana (Anushka Sharma) enters his life with a smash – quite literally. Ruksana’s mother is killed in an car accident that involves Arnab’s car. Seeing that Ruksana doesn’t have anyone else in her life, Arnab helps her out temporarily by lodging her in his house. But all is not well, soon, Arnab is caught in a intricate web of occult that leaves his questioning every belief he ever had.

To be fair to Pari, it gives what it is supposed to. The audiences I was with were scream-laughing at every jump scare that was thrown at us. The music is the perfect blend of creepy and bang-out-there. A horror fan will brace themselves for the next jump scare – and enjoy it. That’s the beauty of a horror film. The audience knows what’s about to happen, just don’t disappoint them with a PG-13 version of whatever you have in mind.

To that end, both the director, Prosit Roy and producers should be applauded. Its common knowledge that horror films get an Adults certificate. And under that, a lot of sleaze used to fly under the radar. However, here, instead of putting in sex and sleaze, they decided to give Bollywood’s first sickening screenplay.

Women delivering babies in chains in a pool of blood, check. A lengthy scene that shows off the face of a witch woman, double check. Animal killing, triple check.  And  in all this, both the female leads are de-sexed. square salwar-kameezes, hospital smocks, that’s the attire they wear.

On the performances front, of course this is out and out Anushka starrer and she has some able support in the form of Parambratha. Her character is quite layered and she enacts it with a verve of someone who’s passionate about films.

But then, Pari isn’t without its flaws. The screenplay leaves some questions that will leave the audience confused. And these aren’t even loose ends in the main storyline, so it’s surprising that the screenplay could have been left so loose. Then again, Arnab’s character is someone who makes the most weird life decisions.

There’s also something to be said about how the basic medical processes are shown. Coincidentally, I was watching the film with at least two doctors, two anesthetic professionals and two other members of the medical fraternity, and it was me who asked the question: “Don’t you wash a wound before applying medicine to it!”

Be that as it may, though, Pari is a bold, correct step for Indian horror films, and we should be happy that Clean Slate Films decided to do this.

In 2018, it is difficult to be an Indian horror fan as well as a horror film makers. Audiences outright reject Indian horror films that ape Hollywood concepts.  Horror films are automatically certified adults and therefore lose half the audience. But the fire is equally blatant on the other side. Film makers are giving audiences lemons in the name of films since a while – for varied reasons.

Sometimes, high concepts just won’t fly with the mainstream audiences, other times, the horror flick just doesn’t get the budget it needs, so on and so forth.  Tacky CGI, tattered screenplays, illogical concepts – all of them are so common in Bollywood horror that there’s a whole industry that celebrates just that, this website included.

Just for these reasons, Anushka Sharma deciding to produce horror films is admirable. Here’s a YRF heroine who could have literally made any other life and career choice, but she chose horror. She started out with NH10, which was another interesting concept, then came Phillauri, a supernatural comedy and finally, here comes her masterpiece – Pari


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