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Chhorii review: How to push a pointless horror wrapped in a social message, one creepy child at a time

The fun 'Sonu Ke Teetu Ki Sweety' Nushrratt Bharuccha is lost in the village horror tale.

November 27, 2021 / 02:14 PM IST
Nushrratt Bharuccha in 'Chhorii', an Amazon Original Movie. (Image: Screen grab)

Nushrratt Bharuccha in 'Chhorii', an Amazon Original Movie. (Image: Screen grab)

There are scary movies like Tumbbad and Bulbbul on one end of the Hindi horror movie spectrum, and then there’s the slew of cringy movies like 1920 and Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Prem Katha on the other. Director Vishal Furia made the same film in Marathi in 2016 under the name Lapachhapi (Hide and Seek) which is now on Amazon Prime Video as Chhorii.

We are ordinary folk who swallow the bitter pill of criticism when we fail and fall down, and are forced to start all over again. But never Bollywood. They’re condemned to make the same mistake in the remake as they did in the original. Why? Because the system is made up of yes men… Turns out that the Hindi version of the Marathi film falters in the same space over the same thing.

Also read: From Prime’s Chhorii to Netflix's Ghoul, a look at why makers prefer OTT for horror genre

Two good things. Mita Vashisht is a good actor, and you’ll want to know where they got the wonderful dupattas she wears. And yes, Nushrratt Bharuccha is pretty, but her acting chops aren’t.

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Imagine you’re watching a heavily pregnant Sakshi (Nushrratt Bharuccha) play with children of the sugarcane. Mita Vashisht’s Bhanno Devi sort of warns her to not do that. Blaming it on her pregnancy, Sakshi does not question the sudden appearance of children in the middle of nowhere (where she’s sheltering). And since this is a horror movie, the kids have to look like they came out of coal mines.

Bhanno Devi, too, has been told to give Sakshi bordering on evil sideways glances (the kohl-lined eyes making her look like a witchy woman) and then grin when telling Sakshi’s unborn child evil stories about a crow switching sparrow’s eggs so ‘zehreeli nagin’ could swallow the sparrow’s egg. That too right after telling her: If mother is happy, then baby is happy, if the mother is sad, the baby will be too… So the baby in Sakshi’s belly should be terrified?

But you, the viewer, gave up logic in the first 20 minutes of the movie when Sakshi and her deep-in-debt husband Hemant decide to leave town for a few days so the chap whom Hemant owes money will forget about it. No wonder Hemant lost all the money. And what makes his stupidity worse? He goes back to the city, leaving his wife behind. Plus, it’s okay to lose logic in the sugarcane maze because you have been rendered deaf by the creepy, loud music that must accompany a horror movie. And if you are irritated by the music, think of how pathetic this version of getting lost in the sugarcane field is, visually. So many movies use this trope and do it better: In The Tall Grass, The Shining, Children of the Corn and while we’re talking about it, remember Signs? Even M. Night Shyamalan made us scan the cornfield for suspicious activity…

The red-eyed Sunaini screams a lot for someone who is burnt. How did her eyes not pop out in the heat? And her voice box survived the flames? Sorry, you will find yourself shaking your head in despair at the screaming burnt bahu and Sakshi promising to tell that story to everyone. Why do dead spirits have morality? Can’t they just be evil? If I were Bhanno Devi, I would just imprison the city duo with the help of my husband (for a good pain and blood and gore fest) and play house with them. George Clooney floating on a chair might hear you scream in space, but in a house surrounded by sugarcane, who’s going to hear you? This groan fest is best avoided.
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication.
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