Raaz Reboot: Where are the chills?

Nothing changes in the fourth of the Raaz franchisee. If at all the chills and thrills seem to run dangerously out of steam and some scenes turn out unintentionally funny. Like when Kriti Kharbanda, sprawled naked on the dining table, says huskily, with fake intensity, that she is feeling hot, “so ******* hot” (in minus ten degrees) the whole theatre tittered in unison. I laughed again when she recited Tagore in faux Bengali: “What strange path led you to me.”

As in the previous films it’s all about haunted mansions, strange voices, unsettled spirits hanging somewhere between life and death, possessing an innocent soul called Shania (Kharbanda wearing bad make-up to look haunted, also aided by terrible SFX) to wreak vengeance, turning her into the battleground for good and evil. Her husband Rehan (Gaurav Arora putting in very obvious, and needless, hard work in the role) is disinterested in her plight. It’s left for an old boyfriend Aditya (Emraan Hashmi, sleepwalking through the film) to come to her rescue. It’s a simple story that gets needlessly complicated by the back and forth movement in time and some superficial talk of insider trading and the post-Lehman economy.

Raaz doffs its hat to Christian theology—there is a soothsayer, a “psychometrist” (whatever that might be) and a priest with a nasty secret—all trying to defeat the devil. The ominous background score seems to be a leftover from such films as The Omen, not to mention the sinister bird as a signifier of malevolence.

But the film also localises things suitably by adding a dash of Hindu religiosity. Before we invoke the current regime for being responsible for this let’s grant it to Vikram Bhatt that he has been doing the same in the UPA days too. Only the religious weaponry keeps changing. Here it is the mangalsutra, blessed by no less than Vaishno Devi and the hero’s mummy, that aids in the protection from evil, much like the cross. In Raaz 3 it was Lord Ganesha who came to the rescue, here it is Gajendra Moksha Strotam, ostensibly more powerful than Vishnu Saharanam, that has to be recited without a break to calm the storm.

The change is in the setting—the cold, snow-laden Dracula land of Romania right down to a Hotel Transylvania. A bleeding laptop, a crow crashing into the windscreen of the car and a whispering drain become the new props of terror. And there is the usual relief offered through all the kisses courtesy who else but – Hashmi.

There are lines like “ tum apne jism mein quaid ho”, “ na tum rishte sambhal sakte ho na rishton ki nishaaniyaan”, a twist that is hardly mind-bending and songs that don’t ring a bell.

Neither does the film itself.

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