Classics and Duds notwithstanding, Ram Gopal Varma’s movies always have an air of expectance around them and the latest movie to bear the weight of expectations is the ‘Black Magic Story’ – Phoonk. RGV has the knack of following a good movie with a dud: Daud after Rangeela, Kaun after Satya, Naach after Bhoot, Aag after Sarkar and Contract after Sarkar Raj. Going by that RamGopalVarmacci series, Phoonk ought to be a good movie……and is it? Well, IMHO, Phoonk delivers, but in parts. Some of the sequences bear the RGV stamp all-over them; they’re broody, not-too-dark-not-too-lit, enthralling the audience and holding them in rapt attention. And some other scenes are lackadaisical and mundane. Black Magic, as a premise has rarely been used in Bollywood and that adds a novelty factor to this movie.
Phoonk is the story of Sudeep – an engineer who is an atheist and rubbishes the notion of divine or evil forces – and his family, wherein his wife and mother are believers and he lets them be, without letting himself be dragged into the rigmarole. He dotes on his children – a son and daughter and it is the daughter who is apple of his eye. As a consequence of a work-related-feud, evil suddenly descends into his midst, affecting his beloved daughter. The very supernatural forces which he used to rubbish and ridicule, now wreak havoc in his life.
Touted as a very scary movie (backed by an audacious dare-to-watch-it-alone gimmickry!) and one that would shake the very foundations of our beliefs, Phoonk turns out to be neither! Audience were laughing away at some of the scenes and the climax only goes towards strengthening our beliefs….it is too fantastic to be believed! Truth be told: I’m an atheist myself and though its hard to say if what happened in the movie were to happen with me in real life would have turned me into a believer, the goings-on certainly didn’t even tickle my belief system. The basic premise of the movie is Black Magic and therein lies a technical goof-up that Ramu has committed! There is a subtle yet marked difference between Black Magic and Possession yet the movie portrays both as if they’re one and the same. I’m no expert on the subject but I think pushing pins into a wax doll would make the victim feel the same pain rather than possessing them. And that’s just one of the minus-point of the movie!
Performance-wise, the child artiste Ahsaas Channa is brilliant as the victim (her traumatized performance second only to Urmila’s in Bhoot!). Sudeep is good as the shaken-belief atheist, though his amma intonations giveaway his southern origins. Ashwini Kalsekar’s role would have been better if she’d been subtle (Johnny Gaddar comes to mind) but spoils it by being over-the-top and very very shriek-y! K.K.Raina and Lilette Dubey‘s characters are lifted straight out of Bhoot (Victor Banerjee’s, split into two). Zakir Hussain is too wierd but I guess that brings out the believability! As in most of Ramu’s movies, background score and camera-movements rule the roost and make a mediocre movie, seem better. The repeated close-ups of Crows and Cats and Trees is irritating though (Vaastu Shaastra hangover, methinks). All in all, a would-have-been-better movie from RGV that’s not as good as Bhoot but not half as bad either! The Black Magic angle and the child artiste’s performance ought to ensure it has a decent run at the box office.
Pros: Black Magic theme, Ahsaas Channa’s performance, Spiritualism Vs. Supernatural tone.
Cons: Slow pace esp. in the first half, blurred portrayal of Possession vis-a-vis Black Magic, the climax.
Spoiler P.S: Did anyone notice that Sudeep’s younger son totally disappears from the movie after his sister starts getting affected??? And no one seems to care for the poor kid! 👿
P.P.S: Though some might say that Phoonk is inspired from The Exorcist, I could find only two similarities -both the victims are kid girls and this scene: