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‘Pari’ film review: Plenty of scares but not enough of a story

Anushka Sharma headlines Kolkata-set Prosit Roy’s supernatural thriller.

In an early scene in Pari, the camera zooms out from an image of a cheap toy hanging off a rear-view mirror. The dangling object is a plastic fairy figure. At that moment, you wonder if director Prosit Roy’s supernatural thriller is going to be filled with cheesy symbolism and tacky props (which Ram Gopal Varma famously overdoes).

The movie takes a whole lot of time to establish a morbid mood, with most of the thrills expended in the first hour. It’s the monsoon in Kolkata, and it’s dark, noisy, sinister. There is an eerie forest, wild dogs and a one-eyed professor (Rajat Kapoor) with dubious motives. Many things go thump in the night, doors bang and sudden loud sounds and growls make you jump in your seat. There will be blood, and plenty of it.

An unkempt, wild and wounded woman (Anushka Sharma) is found chained up. A guilt-ridden young man, Arnab (Parambrata Chatterjee), feels responsible for this frightened and fragile woman. The 137-minute story really cranks up a notch only at the interval point.

The horror/supernatural thriller genre benefits greatly from concise storytelling with heart-racing action. Keep the flab and you give the audience time to apply logic. What is the connection between a local cult and a news story about a gruesome event in Bangladesh? Does it really rain so much in Kolkata? Why is the timid Arnab playing protector to a strange woman Anushka Sharma)? Guilt aside, is he simply taken in by her innocence and enjoying playing the saviour? Why aren’t the police investigating deaths and murders in the area?

Pari is technically competent, and Prosit Roy receives production support in plenty. The costumes, hair and make -up, and background music being noteworthy. The cast, which includes Ritabhari Chakraborty as Arnab’s fiancée, contribute with wholehearted performances. Anushka Sharma, in particular, immerses herself into a physically exhausting character. But an elaborate track about satanic worship along with themes of good versus evil and love limits this film’s appeal to the loyal viewer who favours this genre.

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

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