Director: Vikram Bhatt
Actors: Mahaakshay Chakroborty, Tia Bajpai
There’s a strangely hilarious news report I read recently on the making of a film based on the infamous Neeraj Grover, Maria Susairaj tabloid murder case. The lead actor Mahie Gill, the report said, was being made to hold the heavy movie camera, and shoot her own self for the film. The reason, the director Ram Gopal Varma gave, is he wanted the audiences to get as close to her character as possible!
To be fair, the closest you can possibly get to an actor is when you watch them through thick glasses in a three dimensional film. This is one of those. You feel stunted. The vision is extremely dark. The heroine's amply voluptuous to be cast in a Ramsay flick. The gigantic gent at kissing distance from your screen – slightly rotund in shape; round face with weirdly shaped half moustache and half-goatee over his chin – is the hero who calls himself Mahaakshay. He made his debut as Mimoh: an acronym from Mi-chael Jackson and Mo-hamed Ali, named so by his dad, the great Mithun Chakroborty. Mithun had a popular expression, "Ayeesh" (the way Amitabh Bachchan had "Ayen") for a lot of his characters in the ‘90s movies.
His son on the other hand goes, "Aiyar, Aiyaar, Aiyaaar…" That’s the name of the man whose ghost haunts his bungalow. Mimoh’s a ghost-buster. He wants to take the spirit head-on. Here’s what we learn about the community of ghosts as listed in this film: If you take the name of an evil spirit, they get stronger. They’re most powerful at 3 am, and the weakest at 3 pm, unless I heard it the other way round. There must be some way to finish off these invisible devils.
There is. Mimoh walks into a self-proclaimed class on “auto-writing”. It’s the kind of creative writing where the spirit takes control of your fingers, and you begin to put pen on paper to scribble whatever some phantom wants you to. The teacher, while explaining this process, suddenly stops: “Wait a minute, my father wants to talk to me. She closes her eyes to communicate with the dead. “Glenn Manor, who's from there?”
Mimoh is. Glenn Manor is the house he’s come over to the hills to sell off. “Aaj raat ko dinner ke baad mein Glenn Manor zaroor aoongi (I’ll come over after dinner to the bungalow for sure),” the teacher promises him. She says it again. And yet again. And one more time. The scene gets stuck. Lights at my press show’s theatre go up. We wait for about 15 minutes. The film resumes. Earlier, my pair of glasses, quite heavy over the bridge of your nose, weren’t working. I had to exchange them at the counter.
This is "India’s first stereoscopic 3D film", ideally made for audiences that in business lingo are called ‘B’ and ‘C’ centres. Haunted evidently wants to be the Wanted (Salman Khan small-town super hit) for the same crowd. You just hope they aren’t similarly disappointed by technical glitches. The spectacle would certainly be a novelty for the uninitiated. Practically every third Hollywood film these days is a 3D blockbuster. That’s the American studio’s way of curbing piracy. You can’t quite download a 3D movie. You may not wish to download this one in 2D either.
Unless you’re a serious believer, which Mimoh definitely is. He’s an “MBA from Stanford University, USA; traveled the world to know the difference between ghosts and reality.” The conclusion he’s drawn is that if he can go back in time, save the young girl from murdering her paino teacher, who was trying to rape her, he can make sure they don’t turn into ghosts at all. Point taken.
We’re in 1936 now. You apparently can’t rewrite destiny. Sequence of events can’t be altered. But if you’re Mimoh, you can still move like Michael Jackson. He plays random beats from his cellphone, breaks into a moonwalk. His girl from the 1930s is left unimpressed. Really? This is not on. “Iss dance pe toh mujhpar ladkiyan marti hain (Girls throw themselves at me for my dance),” says our Mimoh. Ok, I do feel scared now. Finally.