By Hindustan Times
Director: Pavan Kirpalani
Actors: Kainaz Morivala, Raj Kumar
Those in the know may recall, 2004 was a particular poor year at Hindi movies. A skin flick called Murder was supposedly the year’s biggest hit. One picture that I suspect more people watched on their computers or phones than at the cinemas was an MMS clip starring two high school kids. It was an obscene porn video shot on a cellphone camera, set in a chemistry lab. The location was unwittingly sponsored by my alma mater, Delhi Public School, RK Puram. The innocent female star of that circulated MMS was driven to disappear after the episode.
As the character based on her in Anurag Kashyap’s Dev.D puts it, "Half the country downloaded that clip. And they called me the slut!" That’s the irony around voyeurism. It’s still a basic instinct. It unites losers across. And hell, there’re millions of them worldwide.
You’re not surprised they’ve inspired this film. The busty girl’s in a white tank top; denim shorts for hot pants. Her supposed boyfriend is a small-built, uncouth, abusive sort of fellow from the North, a thoku master (sex bunny),” as he calls himself.
She takes his crap lying down. He packs in loads of condoms, plans a weekend of non-stop sex that, unknown to her, he intends to film and post on the Internet. The promised lovemaking will be real, you’re told. You wait. Foreplay comes first. Fear’s secondary.
The bungalow the girl and the boy are in is inside a dark, deep jungle. Another couple, friends of theirs, quite easily find this desolate den to spoil the sex tape plans, though only briefly. These are strange kind of young people who down Kingfishers from a big bottle, dance berserk to Bappi Lahiri’s sentimental ditty, You're my chicken fry. You're my fish fry. (I love that song too -- just can’t imagine someone moving to it seriously).
The house, it turns out, has a strange presence lurking around. The couple realises this quite early on. Yet they don’t leave. There’s a dead woman whose ghost haunts this bungalow. This is also a bit of a Bigg Boss house, with cameras fitted all over, and a console that monitors every move. It starts out quite well. The premise and screenplay (neatly outlined) is captivating all right. Spycams allow salacious viewers unfettered access to close-ups of ladies’ bums. Along with it, what the director evidently lacks is Ram Gopal Varma’s strong, sudden cues to the Bhoot (2003) that is at once in and not in the room: the clever sense of horror, as it were.
Which is obviously just an intense trick. Where tension is rationed out in measured portions. Here, you already know the whole story. Suspense is rarely withheld. The boy never quite gives up on his goofiness. You can never take him seriously. The girl, kinkily handcuffed to the bed, hardly exudes any genuine, gobsmacking, gut-wrenching fright. The participating audience’s fear eventually fizzles out towards the end.
This is a digital film. Much on the lines of The Blair Witch Project (1999) and Paranomal Activity (2007) -- movies that instantly taught us how little it costs (apparently about $25,000 and $11,000) to satisfy that many millions across the world. The producer’s Ekta Kapoor. She was once known for afternoon television soaps called Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi or Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki. She should now be forever known for not just making, but astonishingly marketing, the Dibakar Bannerjee digital profundity Love Sex Aur Dhokha (2010).
The leading couple in the film of course, doesn’t get to sleep with each other. The producer’s clearly looking out for a sleeper hit. Good for her. It’s not a bad effort -- unfortunately, it remains just that.