Another review, and it’s off to exotic India again for another curry flavored Bollywood horror goodie. This time out your Favorite Catgirl Movie Fanatic, has another Indian DVD import titled “Rokkk” ready to send those chills down my lil’ spine.
The synopsis? Well it goes like this: “Anushka (Tanushree Dutta) marries a widower Ravi (Sachin Khedekar) against her mother’s wishes. Just when the duo is about celebrate a year of their married life in a new house in Goa, the nightmare begins. It turns out the house is haunted and the evildoer behind inexplicable events is no older than a little girl. Haunted by the girl’s ghost, Anushka approaches a healer who tells her that the house is cursed and there is a definite link to Ravi’s dead wife. Things then take a turn when Ravi is murdered and the blame falls squarely on Anushka who’s then sent to a mental asylum to gain her sanity back. But the ghost follows her there. Anushka just about manages to flee.
Enter Anushka’s sister Ahaana (Udita Goswami) who, with the help of a police inspector (Shaad Randhawa) tries to unearth the mystery behind the haunted house and save her sister, and later on herself, from the curse of the evil spirit.”
Certainly sounds like a ghost story to this lil’ Catgirl, and you all know how Neko just dotes on her silly ghost stories….. The price is nice, and it’s all subtitled in English and ready to go. Naturally I just had to grab a copy for my viewing pleasure. Will I like it as much as “Phoonk”? Guess I’ll find out!
So can you, o’ Gentle Reader… as always here at the Litterbox, you have only to “Read On” to get all the details for yourself!!
By now you, (and my sweet Carolyn as well) are probably saying to me.. “But Miyuki?…. Isn’t this just another of those tediously overlong Indian movies with all that goofy musical stuff? I don’t know if I’m ready for another of those…….” Not to worry. It seems Hindi films are slowly but surely moving away from their standard formula of being mostly vehicles for MTV style pop music sales and flashy superfluous choreographed dance sequences. “Rokkk” has none of the standard musical interludes this lil’ Catgirl usually has to suffer through to watch a Hindi film…. instead being a very tightly plotted narrative driven story with a very Western feel to the storytelling. Thank Goodness! Now…. a few wise Indian film makers do take the effort from time to time to weave those elements into their films with some attempt at making them relevant to the overall story…. unfortunately not all of them do, and it’s this tendency towards simply cramming in musical numbers to please a domestic audience that, in my opinion, has always held most Hindi films back from being taken seriously by the rest of the world. That’s not a problem here. “Rokkk” is a coherent story, well plotted for the most part, and seems to have paid good attention to the Asian “Long Haired Ghost” genre from which it obviously takes much of it’s inspiration. Not only that…. it seems to be truly a film “inspired by” those films rather than simply a direct copy of any of them. And all coming in at a reasonable running time just short of 2 hours….. Nice…..
Our film starts out with a strange frantic phone call from to our heroine Ahaana from her estranged sister Anushka… something terrible has happened and Anushka need her sister’s help. Seems she’s being held in a Mental Hospital for the Criminally Insane, accused of the brutal murder of her beloved older husband and his sister. Before Ahaana can get any details, Anushka is discovered by the hospital staff and dragged away to her cell screaming for help and proclaiming her innocence. Even though her mother has held Anushka’s marriage to a rich, much older husband against her, Ahaana is determined to help her however she can.
We go into a flashback here… back to the start of all Anushka’s troubles, and the first anniversary of her marriage to Ravi, her wealthy older husband. It seems, despite her mother’s dislike of their marriage, the two actually are happily in love…. a very solid relationship with no problems that has even managed to win over the approval of Ravi’s younger sister Nishi, who has come to love her sister-in-law almost as much as her husband does. To celebrate this, Ravi has moved them all into a beautiful house he owns in Goa to begin their life together in a new place to call their own. Unfortunately for them….. the house is both haunted as well as cursed!! (Don’t ya just hate when that happens?)
Weird things start to happen immediately, but seemingly only Anushka notices them…. The typical haunting stuff, strange noises, moving objects, power failures, blood dripping from the ceiling… you know the drill. Next the terrifying specter of this long haired little girl, all crazy and bedraggled starts appearing to her, menacing her at every turn with some unknown evil intent. That’s when things get bad. Her husband Ravi thinks she’s simply seeing things, but eventually decides to move them out of this house of ill omen and back to their old one to calm her fears. It doesn’t help, as the ghostly lil’ girl follows them. She seeks help from a strange agoraphobic spiritualist, but it’s too late. The angry ghost starts possessing people too. First Nishi, who experiences that whole long haired ghost thing where evil hair sneaks up on you and gets you…. then it abandons her to take over Anushka so it can kill both Ravi and Nishi. The police show up, find the hysterical Anushka covered in the blood of her victims, and it’s off to the asylum…. Time to flash forward.
Ahaana rushes to the asylum to find out what has happened to her sister, but before she can get there the evil ghost strikes again and tries to kill Anushka. By the time Ahaana finally arrives, her sister is nowhere to be found, the police are convinced she’s escaped…. and that somehow Ahaana is part of a cover-up of this. As part of the investigation of her escape, snide police inspector Ranvir makes it his goal to keep an eye on Ahaana till she leads him to her missing sister. He figures she’s got something to do with the death of Ravi’s first wife Pooja too, but even though this keeps getting mentioned, nothing is ever done plot wise about this, we never even learn how or why she actually died. This glaring plot hole is about the only real problem overall with the story, and one that could easily have been remedied by simply mentioning a visit she could have made to the house, thus falling victim to the curse……
At least by now we viewers know the particulars of that curse…. It seems that anybody who so much as touches the shadow of the house is fated to die. It’s that simple. But of course Ahaana doesn’t know that…. so she starts right out falling victim to the curse herself and drawing the attentions of that evil lil’ ghost. If only she had the evil Black Magic book her sister found in the cellar of the house (The one bound in demon skin with the freaky eyeball that looks like it came right out of “The Evil Dead”)…. but unfortunately it’s disappeared along with Anushka. Darn….
Eventually heroine and skeptical policeman find their way to that same spiritualist and find out this all has to do with the death of that little girl years ago, a grieving mothers desperate attempt to raise the dead using the powers of Black Magic, and her failure thanks to the interference of a mean spirited drunk named…. Steve…. Yes, I kid you not….. Steve. I had quite the laugh over this… it just seems so jarring to hear such a name for a Hindi guy in amongst all the native ones, but hey, maybe Steve is a really popular Hindi name that just happens to also sound like the name of a geeky Western guy. (Somehow Neko sorta doubts it though…..Hehehe!!)
More deaths follow…. the ghost certainly understands that whole “unholy vengeance thing”, and wastes no time killing Steve before Ahaana and Ranvir can even find him. They have marginally better luck finding the lil’ girl’s mother, now crazy and hiding within a house protected by sacred seals like our spiritualist’s is. She fills them in on the ceremony she tried, explains the curse, tells them they’ll need the book to end it, and then promptly leaves the house for the demon to kill.
Our climax is close at hand…. and so Neko’s gotta give you her “Spoiler Warning” before we wrap this up, as I’m thinking you all just might want to watch the film yourselves. Don’t want to spoil the fun for ya now do I?
Just when you think this movie might be going the direction of most Hindi films and throwing a “romance angle” in which our Heroine Ahaana and tough cynical cop Ranvir fall in love, that idea gets stomped flat….. along with poor Ranvir who’s the next to die, run over by his own car. Wow…. really didn’t see that coming, but it’s surprisingly refreshing to see the strong female character left to work out things on her own for a change without the help of a “strong capable man”, not something a lot of Hindi films do.
Having failed to find the book, Ahaana is forced to confront the evil demon girl with the help of the spiritualist in a plan to trick the demon into possessing her so she can kill herself (and presumably the demon) when it’s at it’s weakest during the time of the new moon. It fails…. but luckily Anushka shows up, right at the crucial moment, evil book in hand, to end things with the powers of Black Magic she garnered from studying the book since her escape from the asylum. The two sisters join forces and destroy the evil creature, ending it’s threat once any for all. Or do they?…… Let’s just say our final moments leave open the possibility of a “Rokkk 2” being in our future…..
So how does this one rate? Hmmmmm? I actually liked this one a lot…. and it’s a worthy addition to the “Long Haired Ghost” genre that you all know I’m just nutty for. With it’s very “Western” feel, a strong female heroine, and a sensible easily understood story (for the most part…. there are a couple of minor plot holes) , I can comfortably give “Rokkk” a well deserved 4 “Meows” out of 5. It’s a good film to watch if Hindi films aren’t really your thing but horror movies are. I’m not certain how well received it was in India, but I can tell you it should do very well in foreign distribution if anyone cares to try marketing it. Hopefully they will, it’s the sort of film that could start making the Indian film industry start making real inroads towards a broader acceptance by a world audience. The DVD itself? Let’s see…. as always, the Hindi DVD is very well produced, with excellent accurate English subtitles and a gorgeous 16:9 letterboxed format at a price that can’t be beat. If you see it lurking around, your Favorite Catgirl says grab it for certain and have a creepy evening of chills, Hindi style. Hopefully I’ll be just as lucky with the other Hindi horror movies I picked up along with this lil’ gem….. Till then, Gentle Readers, “Meow, meow for now!”
Yep, I managed to snag a Trailer, suitably pacify it and here it is for your viewing pleasure!!