September 7, 2012
Bipasha Basu, Emraan Hashmi, Esha Gupta, Manish Chaudhary, Mohan Kapur
There’s reasonable fun to be had watching Raaz 3 if you don’t think too much. Sure, there’s a lot about this film that bothers me – stereotypes, clichés, the works. But first I must confess that the early encounters with the spirit in the film were genuinely frightening, Bipasha Basu turns in a neat performance as a devotee of ‘black magic’, the 3D quality is world class* and director Vikram Bhatt does manage to maintain an eerie atmosphere throughout. Combine that with pretty sets and Bipasha’s stunning looks, and I suppose it can be safely stated that Raaz 3 delivers pretty much what its promos promise – nothing more, nothing less.
The storyline is thinner than Bips’ waistline so here it is in a sentence: leading film star Shanaya (Bipasha) ropes in an evil spirit to destroy her rival heroine Sanjana (Esha Gupta), with the assistance of her director boyfriend Aditya (Emraan Hashmi). Like all films about the netherworld, it’s a story that requires a suspension of disbelief from the audience. If you can set your rationalism aside for a couple of hours in a darkened theatre and/or if, like me, you grew up worrying that there was a ghost in every commode, then you may buy into the proceedings on screen. There’s a point in the film – in a cemetery – when Aditya says to Sanjana: “This is ridiculous, I think we should leave.” If I had not been spooked by then, I might have quoted that line to make a clever crack here. I won’t though, because the truth is that I was slightly on edge. The problem with Raaz 3, however, is that it fails to recognise that it has a good thing going, and so after a nicely scarey first half, it stretches itself far too much in the latter part of the second half, thus diluting the overall impact.
Esha – who barely moved a facial muscle in Jannat 2 – is wisely given the less demanding role of the two women in Raaz 3, and in that she acquits herself reasonably okay. Of course it defies believability that she could possibly eclipse an actress with the screen presence of Bipasha in filmdom, but never mind that. It comes as a relief that though blood flows and a spirit appears before us with his rotting, maggot-ridden flesh, Raaz 3 has no scenes that seem designed to induce vomit. Fortunately too, unlike most Bollywood films of the horror genre in recent years, the background score is not screechy.
I wish, however, that Vikram Bhatt had not resorted to so many clichés and stereotypes in his film. Since our film makers come from the society we live in, I guess it’s asking for too much to expect Bollywood to give us a career-minded, highly ambitious female character who is also level-headed, happy and not evil ... So I’ll fight that battle another day. But here’s one I won’t leave for the future … Shanaya is a bad girl, Sanjana is a good girl, Shanaya is shown smoking, Sanjana is not. Oh c’mon!! After the opening scene in a gorgeous red gown, evil Shanaya wears black almost throughout while sweet innocent Sanjana wears white and other light or bright colours. Oh c’mon, twice over!! In one encounter at a party that epitomises Shanaya’s destructive nature, Sanjana is completely unaware of Shanaya’s malevolent designs – perhaps precisely because of that, gentle Sanjana is in a soft, flowy white outfit while Shanaya is in a fitted, figure-hugging, rather more severe black gown. Don’t get me wrong … the women’s bodies and clothes in the film are b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. I’m simply protesting against the triteness.
It’s also irritating how the script glosses over so much when just a little effort could have lent it some depth. Shanaya and Sanjana’s back stories, for instance, are given extremely superficial treatment. This laziness in the scripting and the so-so songs are what hold back Raaz 3 from being more than just a one-time watch. There’s also the fact that spook films have to be unrelenting right up to the end to be completely effective. In the second half, this one gave me too much time to recover from the earlier scares and ponder several questions: Why was that ghost so darned stupid that he didn’t realise how he was giving himself away? How come Aditya could see the shattered glass on the floor of that house but those guests couldn’t see the cockroaches that Sanjana saw? And most of all: Why the hell didn’t she just cut that dashed thread with scissors?!
Yes yes, I’m being a tease. Don’t ask for details or you’ll be complaining about spoilers. If you watch the film and come up with answers, let me know.
Rating (out of five): **3/4
CBFC Rating (India):
Footnote: (1) I had mentioned on Twitter that I watched Raaz 3 twice for this review. The second viewing was not because I “fell off to sleep the first time round”, as one of you cheekily surmised. No, I watched it another time because I was very late for the press preview and thought it only fair that I should see the film in its entirety before writing about it. Though I’ve called Raaz 3 a “one-time watch” in my review, I should point out that I did not mind it much the second time. What I mean though is that I would not have watched it again if duty had not demanded that I do so. (2) * In case you are one of those people who always wants to know if the 3D “makes a difference”, my answer is that I can no longer relate to that question. Why do we resist new technology? There was probably a time when audiences would ask “does the sound make a difference?” or “does colour make a difference?” My only objection is to films that are converted to 3D as an afterthought. Those are the ones that seem to me to look exactly the same in most scenes whether you have your glasses on or off. Otherwise, if the glasses are paper-thin (therefore convenient) and disposable (therefore hygienic) like the ones at Big Cinemas Odeon in Delhi where I first saw Raaz 3, I don’t understand why there should be an objection to seeing a film the way we see the world around us: with a third dimension.
Photograph courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raaz_3D