As Khamoshiyan opens, we see a mansion – its name: Lakeside Manor – and over it, we hear a man’s voice. “Kal raat phir wohi khwaab dekha.” And I thought this was going to be a retread of Rebecca. First, there is that looming mansion, redolent of Manderley. Then there’s the line itself, practically a photocopy of the novel’s famous opening: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…”
And given this film’s connection to the Bhatts (it’s from their production house), it’s easy to see why they’d be attracted to the story. The quasi-supernatural tone. The dead soul beckoning from beyond, exerting a vice grip on the present. The what’s-really-happening mystery of it all. Add a voluptuous heroine and a hero willing to slip into her bed and mimic a hungry ruminant on an Alpine meadow, and you have the script for Raaz 12.
But as it turns out, the script veers towards BR Chopra’s Dhund, where a young man walked up to a house and got entangled with a wife and her dead husband. In Khamoshiyan, the young man (Kabir, played by Ali Fazal) is a writer on a downward spiral. He wrote one book. He started work on three others and could never bring himself to complete them. I guessed it had to do with the first one’s reception. We see a copy with the title Sarfarosh… it’s in English. So unless it was a record of the making of the Aamir Khan hit, it’s hard to see why an English-reading audience would buy a book with a Hindi title. By the end of the film, his second book is out. This one’s in English too, and it’s called Khamoshiyan. Maybe he just likes naming his books after movies.
This is the kind of idle speculation you begin to indulge in when the film – directed by Karan Darra – doesn’t offer much. Unless you begin to treat it as a drinking game, with a shot for every illogical move Kabir makes. He walks into Lakeside Manor and discovers that all rooms are empty, and yet he chooses to stay. (Shot.) The fireplace suddenly bursts into flames, and yet he chooses to stay. (Shot.) The keys he keeps on the table slide to the edge and fall down (of their own accord), and yet he chooses to stay. (Shot.) The antique radio suddenly comes alive with the song Aayega aane wala, and yet he chooses to stay. (Shot.) A character in a portrait vanishes from the frame, and an instant later, the character reappears, and yet he chooses to stay. (Shot.) The resort’s manager Meera (Sapna Pabbi) begins to speak in a growly man’s voice, and yet he chooses to stay. (Shot.) He’s driving and an apparition appears in the middle of the road, causing him to crash into a tree, and yet he chooses to stay. (Shot.)
We’ve heard of second chances, but Kabir gets a third, a fourth, and when he doesn’t pack his bags by the fifth odd happening, you sink in your seat and actively begin to will him to die. A man this moronic should not be allowed to consume the earth’s dwindling resources.
After all those shots, you’ll probably be too drunk to care, but Meera’s husband (Jaidev, played by Gurmeet Chaudhary) likes to walk into a forest, take his shirt off and douse himself with the blood of chickens. Meera follows him and sees this and, instead of taking off right away, returns to Lakeside Manor in order to pack her bags. (Shot.) Given her general state of undress (this is a film from the Bhatts, after all), you can’t see why she bothered. But at least now, the film becomes slightly more fun. You have another stupid person to wish a gory death for.
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