Bad-apple politicians put the squeeze on a hapless secretary in this tired pile of vengeful ghost mayhem
Censorship may have been an issue in the past, but it’s striking how few horror films Indian commercial cinema has produced relative to those from other genres. Things are changing, however, as younger, DVD-schooled creatives have taken up the challenge of splicing local traditions with spooky tropes, yielding such recent highlights as the sprightly chiller Stree and the darker-hued Tumbbad. (India’s submission for this year’s Oscars, the thunderous runaway-buffalo picture Jallikattu, could itself arguably be classified as horror – not least for its terrifying social commentary.)
The Blumhousification of Bollywood continues with this big, dumb haunted-house runaround, adapted by writer-director G Ashokfrom Bhaagamathie, his own regional hit of 2018 – though adaptation, in this case, has meant not much more than cranking the dial to 11. Initially, we’re in House of Cards country, watching corrupt politicos – and a Central Bureau of Investigation officer who makes Priti Patel look chummy – who are plotting to besmirch one of their few honest colleagues. The idea is to put a literal squeeze on his jailed PA Chanchal (Bhumi Pednekar) in the hope of extracting useful juice.