‘Ghost Stories’ Movie Review: Terrifies you to the core only to lose grip in the end

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The problem with all the segments is a dull finish where the ‘final reveal’ turns out to be bizarrely less horrifying and less gratifying too.

Devoid of forced inclusions of screams or any dramatic appearances of ghosts, Netflix’s Ghost Stories, an anthology horror film, doesn’t fail to frighten you out of your wits. It plays a wait-and-watch game where the stories slowly build up the tension surrounding a character, make you ponder over the mystery, and eventually uncover the eerie situation the character is in. This is seen through four different stories in Ghost Stories where Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, and Karan Johar have directed one each.

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As the title suggests, each of the stories in the film depicts supernatural elements. A suspenseful story has a same person both inside and outside the room at the same time. We also get a psychological thriller where the line between a human and a bird gets blurred. There’s also a story of a village full of zombies who are led by a man-ape monster. Another story represents a curious case of an interaction between an invisible granny and a man. In all of these, we see a calm-before-storm pattern.

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To make your heart go pitter and patter, the film comes packed with a surfeit of spooky instances. Whether it’s a dead crow on the road, or an isolated, leafless tree, or a combination of two circular designs on the door and a chair below it resembling a face of monstrous creature with a pair of eyes and mouth, or a zombie running towards the camera with rage, Ghost Stories has it all. Background music is so magnificently scored by Benedict Taylor that it raises the tension to a whole new level. Even the exemplary acting from the likes of Janhvi Kapoor, Sobhita Dhulipala, Mrunal Thakur, Surekha Sikri and Sukant Goel keeps us engrossed.

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Even though each of the stories starts off well, gathers momentum and keeps the intensity high, they fall short of greatness towards the end. The problem with all the segments is a dull finish where the ‘final reveal’ turns out to be bizarrely less horrifying and less gratifying too. The disappointing and unsatisfying closures will definitely upset you after an intriguing build-up.

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Kalank Movie Review: Almost 3 hours of tedium!

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I survived (Somehow). That’s all I can say after an excruciatingly painful watch and a tiring experience.

Kalank deserves a rap on the knuckles for the kind of restlessness it leads you into. Having sat through the first half-an-hour of the movie and endured the colossal boredom, I wasn’t surprised that I started going into the state of slumber. There’s a big announcement in a dramatic way as to who’s the father of one of the protagonists and who’s his mother as the film nears the intermission (Something that turns out to be a child’s play as you would have precisely predicted it much sooner than they actually reveal). And there’s some sort of romance building up in the midst of India-Pakistan partition issues that hardly move you. The biggest of all problems is that the screenplay is structured in the Indian soap opera style! I didn’t walk out of the cinema hall midway. I had made up my mind to check just how badly it all unfolds in the film.

The story is set in Lahore during the time when India was on the cusp of Independence from the British and the birth of Pakistan was on the cards. The film shows the glimpses of conflict between the followers of Hindu and Muslim religion which ultimately result in indiscriminate killings in the end. Director Abhishek Varman’s focus is more on the lives of a Hindu girl Roop (Alia Bhatt) and a Muslim guy Zafar (Varun Dhawan) and how this affects the people related to them.

Call it inspiration. Or, an attempt to use elements from hit films or even a TV series. This jejune film does have elements that make you hark back to some of the greatest films or series but that doesn’t work in its favour. Do you want a bit of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator sort of action? You got it! You see a strong and muscular Zafar involved in bullfighting. Be ready to witness one of the greatest CGI work in this sequence (pun intended). If you wanted to get a feel of that iconic “My heart will go on” sung by Celine Dion for Titanic or Ramin Djawadi’s haunting main title theme for Westworld, Kalank’s background score by Sanchit Balhara and Ankit Balhara gives you modified versions of the same. In fact, when the teaser of this film was released, film critic Raja Sen tweeted saying that it has ripped off the theme music from the TV series The Flash. And Bollywood also has its very own to look up to. So, you do get to recall Shah Rukh Khan’s famous train scene from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge as Alia Bhatt, who has boarded the train, shouts out to Zafar and he runs to hold her hand in a dramatic fashion and get onboard. The more this film tries to make this film interesting, the more it plummets miserably.

Brace yourselves. Almost every lead actor has an “intro” song too. The unnecessary and not-going-well-with-the-mood-of-the-film songs were probably meant to give you a sigh of relief and give some respite from an otherwise stodgy collection of scenes in this film. But that doesn’t save the film either.  A ‘special’ mention to a song where Roop has turned up at the brothel of Bahaar Begum (Madhuri Dixit). Roop wants to take singing lessons from Bahaar Begum and actually starts singing to a great perfection along with her in the first meet itself (It looked like Roop did not really need singing lessons at all). Outside of this Brothel, Zafar hears the voice of Roop and is mesmerised. Zafar meets Roop on her way out and leaves an impression on her just like that! And there blossoms a romance (actually, tries to blossom).

Not only the relationship between Zafar and Roop fails to bloom, but the not-so-moving tale of Dev Chaudhry (Aditya Roy Kapur) and his ailing wife Satya (played by an affecting Sonakshi Sinha in her short stint) also does not go well.

A grim-faced Sanjay Dutt as Dev’s father is terrific but does not have much to do in this film.

Well, then what did I really like in this film? I got to know that Lahore city is known as Lohaaron Ka Sheher (City of blacksmiths) and this is how it got its name.

I survived (Somehow). That’s all I can say after an excruciatingly painful watch and a tiring experience.