The sun never comes out in Prosit Roy’s “Pari” (Fairy). In keeping with the film’s theme, every frame is dark, the rain is always pouring in sheets and the houses are dingy and dilapidated - the hallmark of any respectable horror film.
Set in Kolkata whose art-deco buildings with peeling walls and general squalidness make it the perfect place for ghosts to appear, “Pari” revolves around Arnab (Parambrata Chatterjee), a journalist whose car runs down a woman, setting in motion a chain of events he has no control over. The woman’s grown-up daughter Rukhsana (Anushka Sharma) is found chained in her own home.
Struck by her lack of social skills and her scared demeanour, Arnab brings her home, but Rukhsana is not what she seems. A bearded man (Rajat Kapoor) is looking for her, and she is haunted by flashbacks of satanic rituals and women who drink blood.
The first hour of “Pari” has enough jump-in-your-seat moments, and director Roy ensures that the atmospherics contribute to the scares. Curtains sway eerily as Rukhsana stares glassily into nothing, seeing bloody, crazy versions of herself all over the house. There aren’t too many special effects, and Roy relies on make-up and Sharma’s ability to transform her face from childlike to terrifying in a matter of moments.
But as the story moves forward, he also feels the need to establish a connection and some sort of a love story between Arnab and Rukhsana. So the ghostly activities take a break while songs play in the background and the two characters enjoy cups of tea and watch cartoons on TV.
In the second hour of the film, things get less mysterious - we find out Rukhsana’s story, and the scary moments get repetitive. Roy gives us an almost Harry Potteresque explanation for the conclusion, with the theme of love winning over evil, but it is hardly satisfying for all the build-up we have seen in the first half.
Both Chatterjee and Sharma are in top form, playing off each other very well. Rajat Kapoor as the doctor who talks to ghosts is appropriately eerie.
But once Roy strips away the mystery from his characters, “Pari” loses its way, and it feels like a laboured finish to the end. Even those easily scared (like this reviewer) will find no need to avert their eyes. The foreboding one feels in every horror film barely lasts till the end, and leaves entirely once you exit the theatre, which is not really an endorsement for a good horror film.
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