I really wanted to like Pari. Any Hindi movie of the horror genre that does not have Emran Hashmi’s pout, random Miss Universe/World contest winners fluttering eyelids while strategically covered by satin sheets, a song by Atif Aslam or Arijit Singh and then its remix, the word Bhatt associated with any part of it, a What Lies Beneath rip off, and Jackie Shroff playing evil girl child Samarah from the Ring ( yes that happened) deserves my support. Add to it a reigning A lister venturing into a non phemily genre, a Kolkata setting, a hero named Arnab, a heroine named Ruksana ( name of the protagonist of the Mahabharata Murders) and Ritabhari playing the Barrackpore Bombshell and you can understand how desperately I wanted to love it.
And yet Pari just did not work for me. It just did not.
Pari is very atmospheric, gets its pacing right, and most of the jump scares land well. But somehow, and I am going to charitably put it down to the commercial pressure to keep things “light”, it ends with a fizzle. I like my horror dark and bloody, but while Pari does give a good bit of blood, the promise of darkness evaporates like an Amit Shah jumla.
Maybe again it is just me but I want a good movie or book to go beyond the mechanics of the narrative and say something about the horror of the human condition. That to me is the real horror. I have tried, and how successful I have been I cannot say, to end both the Mine as well as the Mahabharata Murders with this bleakness, and this is what I have to come expect from the horror I consume. A last shattering blow to the solar plexus.
And yet Pari pulls its punches (and I am trying to be vague to not give spoilers) when it really matters, generating into maudlin sentimentality at just the point at which it should have doubling down on the terror, leaving me, walking out of the theater, kind of cold, and not in a good way.
Ok cross that. There are some enduringly terrifying moments like the copious gulping down of rice, the egregious usage of Boroline, which to Bengalis is the second most effective solution to the problems of the world, the first being Communism, and the mangling of the pronunciation of my name not just by Anushka but also by the Bengali Ritabhari.
Aahrab. Aahrnab. Aahrnab.
Yes that did scare me. That I will accept.