Another day off from work, and another review for you all!! This time, it’s yet one more of the Hindi horror films that showed up in your Favorite Catgirl’s mailbox last week, the Hindi ghost story “remake” of the Thai classic “Shutter”…. “Click”.
Our synopsis sounds awfully familiar…. and goes sorta like this: “Avi (Shreyas Talpade) while dating a model Sonia (Sada) is a successful photographer. They hit a girl while driving back from a party and decide to run. A ghostly picture starts appearing in all of Avi’s photographs after this incident. Three of Avi’s friends are killed one by one and both Sonia is convinced it is the girl’s ghost after them.”
This one is another of the many “uncredited”… almost direct scene for scene remakes done by the Hindi film industry. Practically any successful movie done anywhere eventually gets the “Bollywood” treatment to make the story more palatable for their domestic audience. So then? How close will the Hindi film copy the Thai one? Will it manage to equal the chills while weaving in those peculiarly goofy “Bollywood” elements we’ve all come to know …and sometimes fear more than the ghosts themselves? Well Neko’s never been one to let a little thing like blatant plot rip-off get between me and a movie, especially a ghost story, so I guess I’ll find out.
You wanna know more, you say? Then all you gotta do is “Read On”!!
Your Favorite Catgirl has the eerie feeling she’s been here before….. or at least I’m experiencing again the cinematic equivalent of deja vu that is sometime the Bollywood horror film. You know what I’m talking about…. films like “Bhoot”, which was basically “The Sixth Sense” put through the Hindi cultural filter or more specifically ones like “Naina” aka Bollywood’s version of the HK hit, “The Eye” or even Ram Gopal Varma’s “Darna Mana Hai”, the Hindi equivalent of “Campfire Tales”. Yep….. this is one of those. In this case, it appears somebody in Mumbai must have finally watched Thailand’s “Shutter”… (or maybe just saw the Americanized remake, Hehehehe) and figured it was time to take a crack at this one.
The plot doesn’t stray at all from the Thai movie you might remember. As before, this one concerns the story of a young hip photographer and his model girlfriend, this time out named Avi and Sonia, and their brush with the supernatural vengeance of a “Long Haired Ghost” named Aarti. Even though the story tries to make you think the whole thing has been caused by the death of Aarti in a hit and run accident…. just like was done in “Shutter”… it’s not. The filmmakers made no attempt to change the story at all, and that’s the biggest flaw here. All the suspense is wasted as we’re all in on the “twist ending” right from the beginning. I has originally hoped for something to go in a different direction, but nope…. not gonna happen.
However…. it’s at least interesting to see the film as an example of how to weave those traditional Hindi movie ideas into a good story in a proper fashion rather than the jarring slapdash attempts we sometimes get. Yes… yes… I know….. that means the singing and dancing stuff. But, surprisingly for this lil’ Catgirl…. this time they actually work. The opening credits are a nicely done musical number about photography… mercifully short and used to enhance a modeling sequence introducing Avi and Sonia as our main characters. After a few minutes we get a song and dance sequence disguised as a celebration at a nightclub for Avi, Sonia, and some old friends that Avi has had a falling out with in college. (Yep…. you know why if you’ve seen “Shutter”, but hey…. let’s just roll with it….). Most surprising… there’s another musical interlude partway through shown as a montage of those same friends all having fun in the sun during a getaway to blow off steam once the weird ghostly bits start to get them down. This particular song, Rubayee, was actually a very nice pop duet that was both catchy and infectious…. and had me liking the moment! Who’d have thunk it?
As in “Shutter” there’s the bits about spirit photography, but not treated with the level of importance you might remember. All we get is one strange Indian Professor who’s into the whole “ghost” thing… but he’s not particularly useful to our heroes, feeling like he’s been included just for his oddball looks and antics. Avi’s friend at the photo store has less of a role as well in this version too. Instead there’s a bit more available screen time to lavish on ghostly Aarti and her creepy appearances as she slowly kills her enemies, haunts Avi, and tries to show Sonia what really happened to her back in college.
This is where “Click” is at it’s best…. and this is indeed one sharp, modern looking film, despite it’s lack of original material. If you are remembering Hindi horror films from the 80’s and 90′ in the days of the Ramsay Brothers then you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see that production values in Indian films have improved dramatically since then. The visuals, the effects, and the overall cinematography displayed here throughout are high quality and help lift this one up to a very respectable level.
But…. it can only lift it just so far given the lack of innovation or originality, plot wise. My sweetie Carolyn actually liked this one more than I did…. surprisingly enough… but I’m thinking that was mostly because she’s never seen “Shutter”… ever. I found myself at times nearly losing interest as the story unfolded just as I remembered. Luckily, the cast here is at least a good one, with plenty of chemistry between them, and usually when my interest would lag, the filmmakers would wow me with another particularly nice piece of ghostly eye-candy to revive me.
Eventually the story turns to the death and mayhem you might expect if you saw the Thai film, but here it’s all less bloody…. Hindi film being just a wee bit more squeamish about the particulars of such action. Ahhhhh…. and the plot element of Aarti’s rape at the hands of Avi’s college buddies…. Now there’s a taboo notion in Hindi film. At no point is it actually stated what happened between Aarti and the guys….. and the rape scene itself is done as a confusing jumble of juxtaposed images of them, her and some classic Hindi paintings showing demons ravaging virgins. Afterwards it’s only said that she was “disgraced”….. leading her to suicide. Quite clever given the constraints of the Hindi film censorship rules under which this one was made.
The ending? Well, if you too, have already seen “Shutter”, then you know how it ends. But I suppose you are at least wondering what the overall impression “Click” had for Neko. I can give this one a middle of the road 3 “Meows” out of 5 for…. well…. not surprising me, but not disappointing me either. It ain’t the most original film out there but it’s a quality attempt to produce a version the Hindi audience, at least, will certainly identify with. Throw in some musical numbers that didn’t annoy me for a change (and at least one of which I found catchy and entertaining), keep it to a reasonable 2 hour running time, and I’m a reasonably happy Catgirl indeed.
The Hindi DVD is it’s usual Region free NTSC format in anamorphic wide-screen with those excellent English subtitles we all know and love. Slap a 10-13$ price tag on it with reasonable domestic availability, and you’re in business if you want an evening of Hindi film fun. I wouldn’t say rush right out and grab it if you’ve already seen “Shutter”, unless you, like a certain Catgirl, are just plain goofy for foreign horror films, but it’s certainly worth a rental. On that note, it’s “Meow, meow, for now” until the next time I decide to spring my latest review at the Litterbox upon you all, Gentle Visitors!!
There’s a Trailer, of course, so let’s all take a peek, shall we?