Direction: Vikram Bhatt
Actors: Emraan Hashmi, Kriti Kharbanda, Gaurav Arora
Rating: 1 / 5
If you have a dark past in Romania, what’s the one place on earth you avoid going back to? Romania, right? Yet our brooding, intrepid hero, the generically named Mr Rehaan Kapoor (Gaurav Arora), takes a job in Romania. And signs on for five years.
If you’ve already started with the slow claps, wait. There’s so much more. Raaz, director Vikram Bhatt’s genre-bending series — masquerading as horror, but providing laughs since 2002 — does not disappoint in its so-called Reboot.
Turns out Kapoor’s wife, Shaina, also has a bit of a Romanian past: a vaguely explained chapter with an ex-lover, Aditya (Bhatt boy Emraan Hashmi, hamming away to hell; no apparent relation to Aditya from Raaz 3). Shaina (Kriti Kharbanda) was a model. Aditya was a fashion photographer. (Let it go; you don’t dwell on clichés in a Bhatt film).
But her days of wild romance and racy photoshoots over, Shaina’s settled down with the love of her life (Career? Who needs that?). The trouble starts even before they’ve begun unpacking. She wants a child. He does not. Sensitive Mr Kapoor is so harrowed (by the fight that ensues, but more by the Romanian “raaz”), he sleeps in a different bedroom.
Mrs Kapoor sobs silently, alone in a cavernous room, in full evening dress and complete make-up. And as she cries, like a good wife, she starts unpacking. And discovers a blood-stained laptop. What would you do? Confront your husband? Take it to the cops? Well, they never discuss it. Why is it even there, packed neatly in a carton, presumably shipped from India? Who knows...
Soon enough, though, all hell breaks loose. Blood rains from the laptop, CGI eyes stare out of bathroom sinks. There is something under the bed (of course). And Mr Kapoor comes home one day to find Mrs Kapoor naked on the dining table (“I’m feeling hot, so f**king hot”). It still takes a friend to suggest a psychiatrist. Which our man brushes aside adamantly with a lame spiel on madness.
Instead, soon after, he resorts to psychometry mumbo-jumbo when he’s back to feeling the love for the wife, and now guilt for having ignored her. Meanwhile, she’s gone to a tarot reader — egged on by Aditya — to discover the husband’s “raaz”. Made for each other, did someone say?
From here, we’d happily take the predictable path: tie up girl, summon ghost, exorcise. We’d even pardon the visuals blatantly borrowed from the genre (The Exorcist series; The Exorcism of Emily Rose) and the aerial shots of a car through a wintry landscape (The Shining).
Except, in Bollywood’s borrow-add-masala school of filmmaking, there’s a mangalsutra — from Vaishnodevi, no less — thrown into the mix. At one point, the ghost in the bedroom is even washed in romantic morning light as the hero now sobs silently. Told you, genre-bending.
In a defining moment, a supernatural tattoo reads “love u”. Because, you know, millennial ghost story.
Still care to find out what happens next? Good luck.
Watch the Raaz Reboot trailer