Director: Ram Gopal Varma
Cast: Sudeep, Amruta Khanvilkar, Ahsaas Channa
Storyline: A builder’s child becomes the victim of black magic after her Dad fires a witch
Bottomline: Hamming hits new highs
The only horror in Phoonk is how much Ram Gopal Varma makes his actors ham. Especially, the fabulous four who were the mainstay of the Ramsay Brothers brand of horror.
The Scary Old Lady: Ram Gopal Varma’s old lady can’t talk without shaking her head. That lady’s consistently disapproving expression sort of sums up the audience reaction to the film.
The Kohl-Eyed-Witch: Tight close-ups of over-the-top animated expressions have the hall in splits. Entertaining yes, scary no.
The Freak Watchman: The camera keeps cutting back to his squint-eyed ‘I could be a psycho’ stares all through the film for subtle reminders that he maybe a freak.
The Baba Black Sheep Killer: Horror of horrors, Zakir Hussain takes home the honours in breaking new ground in Hamville as the miracle man – the baba who can kill and generate cornball special effects – the conveniently quick fix solution to this horror tale.
Nothing wrong in employing such visual loudness in a horror film but the reason this doesn’t work in RGV’s latest is because the filmmaker also wants to be subtle at the same time and scare us with close-ups of, among other things – a stress-ball, Spiderman and an E.T. stuffed toy.
We get the idea behind the ‘What if there was life in all sorts of idols?’ If God resides inside an idol or a poster and people believe that from the bottom of their hearts, could there be life inside other shapes and objects too, say, in ominous looking statues? But that idea too goes unexplored, and is reduced to a style-sheet gimmick of icons in the foreground of every other scene before the camera shifts focus to the action in the background.
The science versus superstition debate works at a superficial level, limited to a couple of conversations on faith with absolutely no new perspective on the issue. Probably because RGV himself isn’t acquainted with the significant difference in being an atheist and being agnostic. Atheism, by no means, is a scientific stance simply because just like you cannot scientifically prove God exists, you cannot prove He does not exist.
Sudeep isn’t a bad actor and if he were agnostic, he could’ve come across as a level-headed relatable man of science at the beginning of the film.
Amruta looks like she just stepped out of a TV soap and the child actor Ahsaas Channa looks believably tormented.
The omnipotent crow, supposed to be one of the main performers in the film, is just a glorified extra on the set, offering absolutely zero scares.
So is there anything at all that will scare you?
Yes, thank God for the filmmaker who invented The Dream Cheat and for all the guys who made films on exorcism.
But again, ‘It’s just a dream’ cheats work best when used once. When RGV resorts to repetition, you can tell a man who has run of ideas.
The only other explanation for this film to be this bad is that black magic really exists. And someone’s cast a nasty spell on RGV’s filmmaking.