Threatened by loan sharks, Hemant (Saurabh Goyal) prods her pregnant wife Sakshi (Nushrratt Bharuccha) to rush to a picturesque hamlet to protect their child from harm. Little does Sakshi realise that she is going to become witness to a cruel practice that is being perpetuated for centuries in the name of tradition. What starts as a clash between rural and urban values takes a sinister turn as strange events begin to unmask the reality of Sakshi’s genial hosts Bhanno Devi (Mita Vashisht) and Kajla (Rajesh Jais).
Playing out like a parable, the film gradually brings out one of the social horrors that plague our society. We realise pretty early where the narrative is headed but still, director Vishal Furia manages to keep us engaged and anxious for the story to unravel.
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The narrative, an adaptation of Vishal’s Marathi film Lapachhappi, doesn’t necessarily require the sun to go down for the filmmaker to play out the scares. Negotiating the maze of sugarcane fields, which gradually becomes a metaphor for centuries of the regressive patriarchal mindset that has soured the sweet belt, is enough to almost choke you up. The art design and background score effectively set up the atmosphere for the interplay of illusions and reality.
Some of the rawness of the Marathi original is missing here but the makers largely succeed in holding on to the audience to a supernatural experience rooted in everyday life. The worn-out house, in the midst of towering sugarcane crops, is suitably haunting and, along with other performers, keeps the mood believable for the most part.
Nushrratt has emerged as one of the more competent performers among the young crop of actors. After spending a few years in the Pyar Ka Punchnama universe, she has shown remarkable versatility.
Here, she carries the right proportion of confidence and vulnerability to make us believe in the heavily pregnant Sakshi.
It is refreshing to see the ever-reliable Mita Vashshit return in a prominent role. As the antediluvian mother-in-law, she gets immersed into the Haryanvi milieu, but, perhaps, needed a little more time for the dialect to seep into the system.
A tepid climax and overt messaging towards the end dilute some of the bite, but, still, Chhorii is worth clapping for.
Chhorii is currently streaming on Amazon Prime