Warning: spoilers and emo messages ahead.
Anushka Sharma stars as Rukhsana in a creepy tale of a possessed woman who falls in love with a loner named Arnab.
The tale begins with Arnab and his family returning from a rishta meet up, where Arnab has met Piyali (played by Ritabhari Chakraborty) as his possible future wife. Arnab’s family’s car hits something and they realize it’s a person. As police investigates the accident and the area, they find out Rukhsana (played by Anushka Sharma) in a near captive state living in the hut nearby.
Some background story reveals later, we find out there was a group of women who were possessed and impregnated by an evil Djinn/force called “Ifrit”. Rajat Kapoor, playing the professor Qasim Ali, is the exorcist who, alongwith his team, had decided to kill all these impregnated women and their children of evil.
Blissful Arnab knows none of this and feels compassion towards Rukhsana, who is one of the last living survivors of Ifrit. She, according to a super scary possessed old lady, Kalapori, played wonderfully by Mansi Multani, is going to choose Arnab as her next victim and Rukhsana will eventually use Arnab’s seed to produce another child of Ifrit.
The first half of the film is legit scary and intelligently wound, there are enough jumps and starts for the horror junkie within you to get properly satisfied. Anushka Sharma’s performance as the possessed daughter of evil slash unaware jungle child will give you the exact amounts of compassion and fear at opportune times. However, as the second half moves in with blood and murder, the plot starts to become more funny and less scary. There seems to be a confusion whether the monster is really a monster or just another misunderstood hormonal girl with jealousy issues. The empathy vs war angle is also ambitious but hasn’t been exploited enough – mainly because the focus eventually is that Pari is a horror film and not a lesson on morality. The preachy tone at the end becomes slightly nauseating and speaking of nauseous, I couldn’t figure out why everyone’s vomit was always … white.
Mad props to Anushka Sharma’s production house, Clean Slate films, who always aim to do something different and bring in fresh new faces, talents and stories. Their first film was NH10, a slasher thriller, their second film was Phillauri, a romantic tale with a ghost in it, and now Pari, a horror flick with a message. Now I don’t know if this is a pattern they intend to follow to appease desi audiences, but they really don’t have to have an emotional blackmail trick at the end to make the film a success. In the case of Pari, for example, the humanization of a man and dog eating monster was okay until the beginning but there’s actually a point where the hero’s fiancé, who is a nurse, helps deliver the monster’s baby. I mean, sure, we all should be taught a lesson in humanity but this is kind of pushing it. No pun intended.
Overall, the film is creative, it’s fun and you can definitely rely on it to give you the right jumps and scares for the most part. 3 out of 5 stars for Anushka’s great performance & brave venture into new storytelling ideas.
Watch full review here