Pari: It manages to scare but only in parts
Movie Review by Anand Jha (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Pari has gore and occult shaking hands with supernatural elements – all packed together in this over two-hour long film. Every frame of the movie is filled with gore, either portraying the present state of affairs or the film goes into flashback mode. Pari has a continuous sense of foreboding and gloom attached to it, quite unlike the usual Bollywood horror movies which has protagonists possessed by spirits trying to achieve their trivial agenda. The movie stands out in performances, but lacks a solid screenplay or narrative to sustain your interest through the length of the film.
Pari starts off by showing male protagonist Arnab (Parambrata Chatterjee) meeting his soon-to-be wife Piyali (Rithbhari Chakraborty) and heading home. Arnab’s life takes a turn when his car hits an old lady and she is pronounced dead. Arnab decides to find her daughter to convey this news personally. Rukhsana (Anushka Sharma) is the daughter of the dead lady. As dead body of Rukhsana’s mother reaches the morgue, the diener gets perplexed over a mark on the dead female’s arm. He decides to contact Professor Qasim Ali (Rajat Kapoor), who has sound knowledge of occult practices. Thereafter, the film turns dark with supernatural elements and has reference of ifrit (a Middle-Eastern nomenclature for satan and its female form).
The story follows the attempts by Qasim Ali to subdue the ifrit and fierce romantic inclinations of Rukhsana and Arnab. The major part of the movie is shot in and around Kolkata. There are a couple of scenes which show the brilliancy of camerawork by Jishnu Bhattacharjee. Watch out for a scene where Piyali kisses Arnab and suddenly Rukhsana’s face appears out of nowhere. She’s suspended in mid-air and glares at Arnab. This one will scare you out of your wits and probably one of the best filmed horror scenes of our times.
But is important to point out that the movie has a misogynist undertone, where women are shown as embodiments of devil. The occult, shown in the film, is not women-friendly at all and creates an air of regressive thinking that was prevalent earlier, where women were branded as witches or chudail.
The eerie background score adds more substance to the movie. The narrative style that goes back and forth in time is quite engrossing. The gradual development of Rukhsana’s character right from the helpless, frightened girl to one who chooses to avenge Arnab’s attacker shows a strong character graph. While the writing is tacky in parts, the characters are well-etched out, thanks to Prosit Roy’s screenplay.
After NH7, Anushka Sharma makes a daring attempt at playing a bloody-faced and gory femme fatale, who can be seducing and scary at the same time. Rajat Kapoor, known for his brilliant performances in the past, gets into the skin of the character and delivers a great performance as the menacing professor. Parambrata Chatterjee’s (Rana from Kahaani) Arnab doesn’t really get much to enact and he manages to satisfactorily play the shy young man, who finds himself drawn to his humane sides frequently. Bengali actress Ritabhari Chakraborty as Piyali gets very little screen time but dazzles in the last few scenes, where we witness her powerful acting chops.
Pari might not be the best Hindi horror film but certain elements of the film stay with you long after you leave the theatre.