Rating: 3/5 Stars (Three stars)
Star Cast: Radhika Apte, Satyadeep Mishra, Ankur Vikal, Yashaswani Dayama
Director: Pavan Kripalani
What’s Good: The skillful story-telling and Radhika Apte’s stellar act make this film unmissable.
What’s Bad: A good nerve racking story falls short of content in the second half and ends with an abstract climax.
Loo Break: Bet you can’t move!
Watch or Not?: If you have a taste for unconventional films or psychological thrillers, this should be your pick!
Mehak Deo (Radhika Apte) is a highly skilled artist. After a terrifying incident of sexual assault, Mehak develops agoraphobia, the fear of public spaces. To cope with her fear, she starts to stay with her sister who seeks help from a psychologist. Being holed up in the house for months and because of her panic attacks becoming a problem for her sister, Mehak is unconsciously moved out to another apartment by her close friend Shaan (Satyadeep Mishra).
If Mehak’s mental state is already any less difficult, the new apartment has its own set of mysteries too. The girl who owns the apartment has been missing and Mehak soon starts to believe that she is dead and has been killed.
Strange things happen with Mehak and it is kept ambiguous if it is her mind playing the tricks until the climax.
Phobia Review: Script Analysis
Pavan Kripalani is a genius to have worked on a script like Phobia. Right from the film’s concept of throwing light on the concept of phobia and building it into a fine thriller is a difficult job. The tight screenplay of the film keeps the audiences riveted to the screens right from the word go.
The first half is terrifying and he manages to leave the viewers confused as the lines between the film being a psychological thriller or a supernatural one are thinned.
In the second half, one particularly finds content missing and it’s mainly the performance that keeps the film afloat. Also, the plot has its haphazard moments in the second half as it rushes to reach a conclusion that many may not understand.
There are also intentionally comic elements added in the plot that come as a relief after a scary build up.
Characters are brilliantly written and especially the sidekicks such as Manu, the strange neighbour and Nikki also the young college-going neighbour. They are blended in the story at crucial points and keep the story moving ahead.
Bollywood rarely touches such genres and hence this film has a sense of an achievement for even attempting such a subject.
Plenty of spine-chilling moments come and go all through the film, making it quite difficult for the weak-hearted.
Phobia Review: Star Performance
Radhika Apte has been on a roll. After many minor roles that made an impact, she gets a biggie this time. As the protagonist struggling to deal with herself, Apte pulls off a mammoth of an act. She seems so convincing that for moments one even finds oneself relating to her situation and completely pulled into the story. She excels in scenes of her going through the panic attacks.
Satyadeep Mishra fits the bill perfectly as Shaan, the friend and lover of Mehak. His natural act gives his character the right touch of realism.
Yashaswani and Ankur Vikal make up for a strong supporting cast.
Phobia Review: Direction, Music
From the first frame of Phobia, there is something unsettling about it. It completely sucks you in with its intelligent story-telling. Well-paced, the first half takes a good amount of time to establish its complicated plot.
The cinematography is clever and manages to make ample of references offline from the story. The director’s talent can be observed in little things such as when there is a supernatural theme build-up, the character of Nikki is shown wearing a funny Tee mocking ghosts.
Where the film fails is to keep up its agility in the second half. Slightly moving off from where it started, the film stretches in an untoward manner. The limp second half affects the film’s climax too.
The lighting is carefully shown according to the protagonist’s state of mind which complements the story.
A couple of scenes are gory with all the blood but I have to say they are impressively bold compared to what we usually see since Bollywood prefers to tone it down. Gladly, the censor board didn’t touch them!
The background score works its magic for most of the time and hence you remain alert for what’s coming ahead. There is only one song in the film and it comes at a good juncture without hampering the flow of the story.
Phobia Review: The Last Word
Phobia is a step ahead for Bollywood to explore the genres of psychological thrillers. With Radhika Apte’s fine performance, this film is a must-watch for those who love experimental cinema. I am going with a 3/5.
Phobia releases on 27th May, 2016.
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