Vishal Furia’s Hindi-language Chhorii barely tinkers with his 2017 Marathi-language film Lapachhapi – an excellent decision, given the success of the original movie in combining horror with social messaging.
The Amazon Prime Video release stars Nushrratt Bharuccha as the heavily pregnant Sakshi. After her husband Rajbir (Saurabh Goyal) is roughed up over unpaid debts, the couple are forced to flee the city and repair to a remote village. Here, amidst lush sugarcane fields and the ministrations of house owner Bhanno Devi (Mita Vashisht), Sakshi relaxes, but is soon knocked out of her calm by a strange sequence of events.
These include Bhanno Devi’s account of the tragic deaths of her sons, a tape record player that contains an eerie lullaby, and the appearance of strange-looking children. Is Sakshi suffering from pregnancy-related anxiety, as Bhanno Devi suggests? Or is there something, or someone, lurking in the sugarcane fields trying to possess Sakshi and harm her unborn child?
The 130-minute movie gradually reveals its themes and the nature of the true horror chasing Sakshi. Combining daytime horror with night-time scares, Chhorii ratchets up the tension with minimal gimmicks and effective atmospherics. Vishal Kapoor’s screenplay adds a few scenes to Lapachhapi but stays largely respectful of Vishal Furia’s vision.
Nushrratt Bharuccha does a fine job of a portraying a character who draws on her feminist convictions to make better sense of her predicament. Sakshi is terrified by what she encounters, but has the mental strength, despite her physical condition, to confront her situation. Mita Vashisht is excellent as the strongly maternal Bhanno Devi, who has seen what Sakshi now sees and dealt with it in her own way.
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