When it comes to originally inventive cinema from Bollywood, actor and producer Anushka Sharma is fast becoming the filmmaker that comes to mind. After two home productions that were critically and commercial appreciated, Sharma’s ‘Pari’ is a wonderful attempt at commercializing a genre film with amazing performances both on and off screen.
‘Pari’ is effective in subverting the horror genre within Bollywood, with incredible skill on and off screen.
Rating: 3 Out Of 5 Stars
Starring and produced by Anushka Sharma through her Clean Slate Films, ‘Pari’ (Fairy in Hindi) is a supernatural horror movie that touts itself as not being a fairytale. The film definitely delivers on its promise of being an out and out horror movie. And while the movie may seem as pretty tame for an international audience, it’s an amazing effort by all involved.
An investigation into the death of an old woman due to a hit and run, leads to the discovery of a young woman chained and held captive in her house; the old woman’s daughter. The daughter, named Rukhsana (Anushka Sharma) seemed to have been raised completely isolated from the real world in a jungle hut, and the loss of her mother leaves her completely alone in the world.
Her only contact is with Arnab (Parambrata Chatterjee) whose father accidentally killed the old woman. Feeling responsible, Arnab stays with Rukhsana and helps with releasing her mother’s body from the morgue, performing funeral rites and so on. So when a mysterious man comes looking for Rukhsana in her hut, the only place she can flee to is Arnab’s house. Taking pity on the young girl, Arnab keeps her with him, unsure of what to do, especially given his looming nuptials to his very recent fiancee, Piyali (Ritabhari Chakraborty)
‘Pari’ is a wholly original horror movie that draws from the Islamic superstitions and beliefs, to craft a wonderfully innovative story that’s rarely been the basis of any Bollywood movie in recent memory. While the classics of Hollywood horror use a lot of Christian or general religious content to create the scares, this idea of using a religion very much based on one of India’s biggest, feels extremely creative.
This is a bold role for Anushka Sharma, given that she spends most of the time on screen, redefining what it means to be deglamorized, which is surprising and refreshing from an A-List Bollywood star. Recently, Bollywood critic Farydoon Shahriyar went gaga over Sonam Kapoor’s apparent’ ‘no make up’ look in ‘Pad Man’. So he must going coo-coo over Rukku!
How many mainstream actresses can have the courage to wear specs,delve in a no make up look n rewrite the term 'unconventional' itself?Sonam Kapoor brings a hell lot of honest spunk to her role.She's the fulcrum of #Padman n it's amazing to watch her make these brave choices!!
— Faridoon Shahryar (@iFaridoon) 9 de febrer de 2018
When Sharma’s not looking down to earth with her childlike innocence, she’s showing her range through her expressions of demonic possession and over all creepiness, sporting a bloody and battered face. Sharma shows just what an actress is able to do with the proper role and writing, as Sharma’s performance is really what sells the mysterious and odd vibes behind ‘Pari’.
Sharma needs to be applauded not just for her performance on camera, but for backing a movie such as this as a producer. ‘Pari’ is in a genre that hasn’t been that successful in Bollywood, but Sharma is brilliant in both roles.
Supporting Sharma as the male protagonist is Parambrata Chatterjee, and he’s incredibly effective as the mild mannered man who’s caught in this demonic battle. It’s impressive that writer Abhishek Bannerjee crafted a story that gave significance to the sub plot between Chatterjee’s Arnab and Ritabhari Chakraborty’s Piyali. In a movie where that could easily have been lost in the shuffle, the secondary storyline was wonderfully created and paid off majorly in the climax. Rajat Kapoor is wonderful in the role of the man trying to hunt down Rukhsana, and his ability to be intimidating with a change in tone, is brilliant in a film such as this.
‘Pari’ sets itself apart from movies off screen as well, given that the film is set in, and uses characters from a region of India that’s rarely given center stage. While many amazing Bollywood movies have been set in Calcutta and the West Bengal region of India, (‘Piku’, ‘Kahaani’,) ‘Pari’ fully utilizes the characters, religion, and even focuses one of the characters as being from the other Bengal, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Something that’s really cool for that section of Bollywood fans from that part of South Asia, like yours truly.
Going back to the movie itself, ‘Pari’ fires on all cylinders. The story is interesting and definitely keeps you engaged, however, some trimming may have reduced a lot of the slower moments in the second act. At 2 hours and 15 minutes, the film drags a little in the middle, and the jump scares and meant to be scary moments aren’t effective enough to justify the long runtime. The movie is at its best when it barrels from scene to scene. ‘Pari’ is director Prosit Roy’s first feature film, and it shows, as the movie is a little rough around the edges.
Despite this, ‘Pari’ is a fresh film with a lot of new things to experience as a Bollywood audience, but others may be disappointed with the rather tame horror elements of the film. The movie is still enjoyable as a thriller and a decent watch, but more importantly, an important step towards original storytelling in Bollywood and having makers invest in such originality.