Mix together Rosemary’s Baby, Twilight and classic Bengali horror stories and you get…Prosit Roy’s debut film, Pari. Bollywood isn’t known for its horror fare, but Roy and producer/star Anushka Sharma have created a story that will rival any Japanese or Korean fright flick.
The story sets in motion when Arnab (Parambrata Chatterjee), driving back from meeting his arranged fiancée Piyali (Ritabhari Chakraborty) for the first time, runs over and kills an old woman (Mansi Multani) who jumps in front of his vehicle. After tracking down the woman’s jungle hut, Arnab finds her daughter Rukhsana (Anushka Sharma), chained up.
Rukhsana and Arnab later reunite at his house, where she seeks refuge. A petrified Rukhsana explains that she’s being hunted by a Prof. Qasim Ali (Rajat Kapoor), though she won’t explain why.
Rukhsana is understandably traumatized and uncivilized, as she grew up chained inside a jungle hut. Arnab pities her and sets out to rehabilitate her. Their relationship slowly but surely develops which eventually create a conflict concerning Arnab’s upcoming marriage. As if that drama wasn’t enough, Rukhsana is also haunted by the ghostly apparition of Kalapori (Mansi Multani).
Pari is a film about moral ambiguity. One minute a character is a victim and the next minute a ruthless killer. An intellectual can morph into a dogmatic sadist. A loved one can literally leave you for dead. The actions of an apparent abuser can later be found to have had a benevolent purpose. There are no heroes in Pari, but no absolute villains, either. Each character undergoes a moral metamorphosis before our eyes, struggling with the weight of their decisions. Justice is never harmless or simple in horror films nor in real life.
Anushka Sharma steals the show, as usual, effortlessly channeling Rukhsana’s dreams and demons. Prorit Roy manages to convey an atmosphere of dread throughout his film, while also showing the full humanity of the characters. The ending will definitely throw you for a loop, with its classic Bollywood film-flavor. Let us hope Prorit Roy directs many more quality films like Pari.
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