Eventually, Just A Fairy Tale With Romance
Pari is supposed to be a scarefest. So, does it elicit fear? Having watched a late night show, do images linger in the mind? Could something pop up from behind the curtain? Is there someone lurking behind the door? Not really, because at the end, sadly, Pari turns out to be a tragic love saga.
The film takes us on a ride to the 'other' world. One where we are introduced to supernatural spirits, blood-sucking demons and disfigured creatures, who unleash their fury on anyone and everyone posing a threat to them. Set in a dimly-lit, rain-lashed Kolkata - all to add to the eerie ambience - Pari sees Sharma take on the role of Rukhsana, the daughter of an evil spirit, with aplomb. She's her mother's 'Pari', just not a dainty fairy. She can scale walls, run at lightning speed and disappear into thin air. When she's not pulling off such shenanigans, she's sketching portraits or cutting her every-growing talons - the noise of the nail-cutter aiding in upping the horror quotient.
After NH10 (2015) and Phillauri (2017), Sharma, who is also the film's producer, yet again sinks her teeth into a role devoid of glamour. She's keen to challenge herself, it is evident, but what mars the plot is the disjointed reference to certain cults and decade-old occurrences in Satkhira, Bangladesh. The first half trots at a sluggish pace. It's only post-interval that things start unfolding, but soon take a bizarre turn towards the end, with a romantic plot thrown in.
But to give credit where it's due, Sharma has spent immensely on production and prosthetics, which, if gone wrong, can turn horror into comedies. As for the acting, Parambrata, best remembered for his 2012 outing Kahaani, alongside Vidya Balan, appeals yet again. Rajat Kapoor proves playing baddie can be good too.
Pari redefines the horror genre in Bollywood. It proves that we've come a long was since the era when the Ramsay Brothers dominated with their white, saree-clad, pyaasi chudails in films like Veerana (1988), Purana Mandir (1984), Purani Haveli (1989) and Bandh Darwaza (1990). Later, Ram Gopal Varma took the genre a notch higher with Bhoot (2003). Successive attempts to spook have only managed to tickle funny bones. If only there was more meat in Pari for the demons to chew on, it would be a compelling watch.