Cast: Bipasha Basu, Dino Morea, Malini Sharma
Director: Vikram Bhatt
Music Director: Nadeem Shravan
Synopsis: Effective reworking of the What Lies Beneath scenario – stylish and chilling
Inspired by What lies Beneath, this supernatural thriller is an engrossing and chilling affair which surpasses any expectations you may have had. Vikram Bhatt let the side down with his previous effort Kasoor, an insipid rehash of The Jagged Edge which had no one in suspense except those not familiar with the original. Raaz however manages a great deal of suspense and is original in that it only seems to take its central idea from What lies Beneath but does not seek to copy that film.
The film opens with the beautiful mountains of Ooty where a group of students are picnicking. As a part of a prank, Nisha (Mink) runs into the forest, followed by her boyfriend who loses her. Walking into the almost still forest, Nisha seems engulfed by the wind and hears a woman screaming. Next, we see her in hospital, having convulsions and seemingly possessed, having broken her boyfriend’s shoulder with extreme force for no reason. Professor Swaroop (Ashutosh Rana), a visionary of sorts and who believes in the theories of ghosts and spirits, believes Nisha to be possessed by a spirit. Taken back to the forest by the boyfriend, they hear that Nisha has died. Professor Swaroop believes the secret of her death lies in the depths of this forest.
We move to Mumbai where Sanjana (Bipasha Basu) tries but fails to attract the attention of her husband Aditya (dino Morea). Against the strains of “shanti shanti”, Sanjana looks anything but peaceful and walks out on the party after having a tiff with Aditya. On driving, back, she hears a voice whispering her name to her prompting a car crash which she miraculously survives. She wants a divorce but Aditya wants another chance and wants to take her away, “to start again”. Given the choice of London New York Chicago, her eyes seem to dart to a picture on the wall with tree trunks and she immediately replies “Ooty”. It’s almost as if there is a force which is beckoning her there.
The couple arrive in Ooty which is laden with memories for Sanjana, determined to make a go of their marriage. But along with the memories come strange goings on in the house. She hears the sounds of a woman’s scream, the wind blows near her, light bulbs smash by themselves, doors open and close, a bloody spade keeps falling despite being put against the wall. What can all of this mean? Sanjana’s friend Priya takes her to see Professor Swaroop perhaps to suggest that some Feng Shui will help but he feels a presence within the house. Matters spiral out of control when Sanjana is left alone one night with blood oozing from the chandelier and the image of a woman in red staring at her from a mirror, pointing at her. What is the raaz and how is this linked to Sanjana.
Vikram Bhatt conjures up a clever and absorbing chiller without incorporating cheap thrills or resorting to the usual bloody and violent clichés usually present in Bollywood horror movies. In this respect, this is a superior ghost story, constantly chilling and engrossing despite the odd song or two which tends to bog down proceedings later on in the film. He wraps his film up with a taut screenplay and some good performances doing without the usual goofy comedy or an excess of characters in the film. This is certainly a coming of age for Vikram Bhatt.
He is helped by fairly good performances. Bipasha Basu looks beguiling at times and gives a fairly good account of herself although she sometimes whimpers a little too much and without the real smell of fear. Still, she carries the film almost and for that in itself, is impressive as its only her second film. Dino Morea looks like a Rahul Roy clone but manages to give a decent performance as well. Malini Sharma has a wonderful if short role and brings a very believable menace to it, but also not lacking in charm and a warmth which makes her character almost tragic. A great debut. Ashustosh Rana tends to be a little loud. Nadeem Shravan’s music is good without being outstanding and perhaps the film has two songs too many. The film has excellent camera work and a brilliant background score. Well worth a visit.