Star cast: Aditya Narayan, Shweta Agarwal, Rahul Dev, Shubh Joshi.

Plot: Aditya Narayan loves Shweta but her family is cursed because of which no girl in the family can marry. With the help of Rahul Dev, the lovers set out to rid the family of the curse which has been plaguing the family since generations as it is stuck to an evil spirit.

What’s Good: Some of the scary scenes.

What’s Bad: The confusing plot of convenience; the slow pace; the unintentional humour in the horror scenes.

Verdict: More than the film scaring the audience, its collections will frighten the makers.

Loo break: Plenty, so long as you don’t encounter or imagine ghosts in the toilet.

ASA Production And Enterprises Pvt. Ltd.’s Shaapit (A) is a horror film about a cursed family. One of the male members of a royal family had, many years ago, tried to rape a girl who had committed suicide to save her honour. The father of the dead girl had then cursed the family. That curse – that no female in the family would be able to marry – has been the bane of the family for generations now.

Kaya (Shweta Agarwal), who hails from the cursed family, falls in love with Aman (Aditya Narayan). Calamity befalls them as soon as Aman slips the engagement ring in Kaya’s finger, without the knowledge of Kaya’s parents. When her parents tell Kaya of the curse and ask her to stay away from Aman for the same reason, she is unwilling to heed their advice. Aman, too, is heartbroken.

Aman and his friend, Shubh (Shubh Joshi), meet Prof. Pashupati (Rahul Dev) who tells them that in some cultures, there was a belief that a generational curse worked much after even the person who had uttered the curse was dead because the evil curse stuck to an evil spirit which then became the keeper of the curse. According to Pashupati, it was the duty of that evil spirit to make the curse come true generation after generation.

Aman then sets out to destroy the evil spirit as, according to Prof. Pashupati, that was the only way to put an end to the curse. What happens thereafter is revealed in the climax.

The story, written by Vikram Bhatt, is quite confusing and long-drawn. The most perplexing part of the script is the correlation between the curse of the dead girl’s father and the evil spirit. In other words, Prof. Pashupati’s explanation that the curse stuck to an (unrelated) evil spirit would not make much sense to the viewers. Because it is so difficult to comprehend (thanks to the inefficiency of the screenplay writers, Vikram Bhatt and Dhiraj Ratan), the audience wonders what happened to the dead girl and her father’s curse and how that could be negated by going after the evil spirit in the same palace. Worse still, the lady who has been transformed into an evil spirit has never been shown to have interacted with the dead girl. Furthermore, most of the audience is bound to misunderstand that the spirit to be destroyed is that of the girl who had, many years ago, committed suicide and, therefore, they would be confused about Aman going after the evil spirit of another lady of the palace instead of the ‘suicide girl’. Of course, the truth is that the spirit of the ‘suicide girl’ was never the evil spirit but this point ought to have been underlined and drilled into people’s heads. That is to say, the starting point of the film is lost completely as the drama progresses, thanks to some vague science professed by Pashupati.

Yet another point is that instead of relying on Indian superstitions and beliefs, which are commonly understood by the audience, Prof. Pashupati speaks of some alien culture which will not appeal to the audience as it is Latin and Greek for them. There are too many spirits at play, further confusing the audience. Another defect is that the film does not show the romance of Aman and Kaya and, therefore, the audience does not get convinced of their undying love for one another which makes them risk their own lives to rid the family of the generational curse.

The pace of the drama is excruciatingly slow with Prof. Pashupati giving his paranormal spiel every now and then. He talks with such confidence, it almost looks like he were God. And yet, whenever calamity strikes, he is shown to be helpless – at times, even asking Aman to help! His sermons are irritating and also boring. Also, given the fact that it is only he who knows the science, his instructions to Aman and Shubh are sometimes so half-hearted and half-baked that it doesn’t look like he was truly interested in helping Aman. For instance, when the three of them hold hands together in a circular fashion (one hand of Aman locked with Prof. Pashupati’s hand and the other hand of Aman locked with Shubh’s hand, and so on and so forth), Prof. Pashupati instructs them to not leave his hands under any circumstance because the circle of energy should not be broken. But what if Aman and Shubh left each other’s hands? The circle of energy would be broken even in that case to seemingly catastrophic results. Likewise, Aman’s father, at one point, comes to where he is with Shubh and Prof. Pashupati and asks him to return home as he (father) fears for his son’s life, but the moment Aman refuses, the father leaves him alone and returns home in spite of his fear of spirits. Wouldn’t a concerned father stay back to look after his son? What’s more, that supposed-to-be concerned father doesn’t even speak to Prof. Pashupati to understand what’s going on! Ridiculous, to say the least.

The attitude of the professor, his gait, his demeanour, all hardly suggest that he is out on a job to rid an evil spirit. They all actually make it seem as if he were on a routine job. Also, the entire drama of destroying the evil spirit seems so long that the audience wonders what would happen to Kaya who is in a comatose state. Even the climax is too long-drawn and boring. However, the last part of the climax is very good. Girish Dhamija’s dialogues are too commonplace to be true.

Aditya Narayan makes an average debut. He tries to get a range of emotions on his face but succeeds only partially, thanks also to the poor script. His looks are fair. Shweta Agarwal is alright. She looks average. Rahul Dev is too laidback for the role he plays. He is, however, good in the climax when he is possessed by the evil spirit. Shubh Joshi provides good support in the limited scope he gets. Natasha Sinha is effective. Murali Sharma, Nishigandha Wad, Pankaj Berry and the rest lend average support.

Vikram Bhatt’s direction doesn’t impress. Even the computer graphics (Adlabs) aren’t scary enough. Music (Chirantan Bhatt) is fairly nice but is not too popular. The absence of haunting music in this horror drama is, of course, sorely felt. Although a couple of songs are well-tuned, they lose in impact in the overall scheme of things. Pravin Bhatt’s camerawork is okay. Background music is effective. Production values are very nice. Action scenes, composed by Abbas Ali Moghul, are exciting.

On the whole, Shaapit is confusing, slow and not even scary enough to thrill and send chills down the audience’s spines. It will, therefore, not bring good news at the box-office.

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