Horror-story cliches re-re-re-regurgitated for your boo-ing pleasure:
1. Ghost woman in white sari
2. Haunted banyan tree
3. Haveli in sunsaan ilaaka
4. Black cat
5. Evil cackling that is never really explained
6. Shower scene
7. Women in unbelievably lacy nightgowns that billow eerily behind them
8. Only one chattering idiot knows the truth, the others just wander blithely down dark corridors
9. Surprise terrifying twist in the end that only everybody saw coming
10. Another 'Factory Product' that should have remained a trailer
When the posters say this movie "will kill you", they speak the truth. Fear won't seize your heart at any point, but boredom will definitely glue your brain shut.
Surely, you think, it couldn't have been that bad? No actually it wasn't. For instance, not all the details were clichéd. The ghost-woman wasn't in a white sari, she was in a dirty brown one. The banyan tree is not haunted; it's the one doing the haunting. Yes. And ghostly vegetation is the least of the problems.
When the Raos move into their dream home many miles away from civilization and a decent plot, little do they know that the tree in their front yard has a strange sense of humor. It's not clear why this venerable, gnarled giant is so amused, but there's a lot of chuckling going on of the kee-kee-kee kind. This can get insanely annoying once your hearing comes back.
The sound effects of the film are fascinatingly bizarre. Maybe they overshot the budget and didn't have enough for a professional, so they gave Pandu a few empty popcorn bags and asked him to burst them at short intervals or whenever he damn well felt like it. So at the most innocuous of times, a loud shot is heard for no humanely-acceptable reason.
Anyway, so let's not abandon the Raos and their little boy, Rohan, who soon makes friends with the ghosts in the tree. Then, one night, Jhil (Sushmita Sen, tragically wasted) sees a ghost in regulation uniform, peeking rudely through her window. A drink of water later, she and her husband (Chekrvarthi) decide it was just her imagination.
But they cannot similarly explain the steady dying of people around them. First the boy's bai becomes roadkill. Then Jhil's sister and her boyfriend are murdered in a cheesy sequence. And then, to top it all, a madman (Rajpal Yadav, too little, too late) follows Jhil to office every day screaming gloomy prophesies about her family's death. Who wants to hear that morning-morning?
So the madman is ignored until almost everyone dies. Then there's a zombie-reunion of some sort (Class of 1996, lookin' gooood!). Then there's that amazing twist in the tale that everybody saw coming.
On the whole, a movie with no chills, thrills, spills, or even, gills. Just the little fright engine that couldn't.