Haunted: Movie Review

Kunal Guha

The prospect of getting horrified in three-dimension could be promising. But Indian horror films have rarely gone beyond chalk-faced spirits in Halloween costumes grunting like death-metal vocalists. Here you have just that, in 3D. And the most interesting thing that pops out of the screen is one character's nose. And as incredulous as it may sound, you can actually count the blackheads and even join them to form a shape, if you will.

The story is about Rehan (Mahaakshay Chakraborty) who has just returned from the US. Appropriate look: squirrel hairdo, leather jacket, neck scarf: check. He's headed to Ooty to sell off a family property (which is haunted), so appropriate expression: bewildered: double check. In fact he probably rehearsed the expression so well that his forehead is crinkled even in one of his intimate scenes.

Once he reaches the haunted house, Glen Manor, he is welcomed by a sound similar to Hard Kaur clearing her throat mixed with rodents making love. And if this wasn't enough evidence, the spirit actually makes an appearance in the form of a piano-playing-ceiling hanging damsel from the 1930s (Tia Bajpai), who communicates her sob story through a letter. Clearly moved by her story and smitten by her beauty, our American desi boy makes his life's mission to avenge her death. And of course, he also bumps into several chalk-coated severed heads lying at different places in the sprawling mansion. He tries to confide in a friendly neighbourhood Parsi gentleman, who calls him and idiot. He shoots back, "I'm not an idiot, I am an MBA!" Sure, you can't be an idiot, unless you've bought a ticket for this movie too.

And since no Bollywood horror film is complete without the interference of religion, our dazed hero heads to the closest church, where Father (Mohan-yes-my-child-Kapoor) briefs him on spirit behaviour. 1- Spirits are most powerful at 3am and weakest at 3pm (afternoon siesta?). 2. You must never take the name of the devil (pseudo-names, pronouns- good to go). 3. To capture this evil spirit, you have to go to a Dargah (why can't Father use his own God to solve this? He only caters to Holy Spirits?). And after a dreary monologue on good over evil, he sets Rehan off on his journey to fight the spirits, armed with wishes and a promise that he would pray for him.

This movie also involves some time travel, an evil spirit raping a cute spirit, a lot of heavy breathing and a chillum-smoking 'Baba' who magically blows away wounds, brings good luck and plays another secret role in the film.

The film paints a beautiful landscape and 3D enables you to relish the foreground even better. Also, the SFX will jolt you out of your seat atleast once in the film. But the effortlessly idiotic dialogues and overuse of the word 'spirit' all point towards a half-spirited writer. The film also includes veteran actors Arif Zakaria, who is most expressive in his spooky avatar and Achint Kaur who is scary enough as her natural self, let alone otherwise. The film's music doesn't pump up the spook value but is loud enough to keep you awake.

Your parting lessons from this movie would be many. Spirits can't read, can be stabbed with wooden logs, are combustible and even though they can run on air, make and break brick walls, once left inside a latched door, they're, well, trapped. Moral of the story: if you're willing to put up with a few eerie scenes, you will be rewarded with many laughs.

You can reach me at guha.kunal@rocketmail.com or connect with me on Facebook