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Phoonk Review

Phoonk
EDITOR RATING
3.0
Performances
Script
Music/Soundtrack
Visuals
7.5
3.0
7.0
8.0
Suggestions
Can watch again
No
Good for kids
No
Good for dates
Yes
Wait to rent it
Yes
His interviews and his responses to critics on his blog show a tactless irreverence, especially for someone whose last 7 films flopped. Unfortunately, Ram Gopal Varma has taken that recklessness to his profession, too, and Phoonk, one of the most repugnantly cliched films in recent times, is a marquee example. While a Mani Ratnam, a Trivikram Srinivas or a Steven Spielberg makes one film every 2 years, Varma seems to churn one out every quarter now. The sanctity of the effort has gone down the toilet, and like for a gambler on a losing spree, it's failure catalysing more failure.

Phoonk is Varma following his more-or-less standard approach now - milk his cash cow of technical skills. Where the script is a non-issue, and it's all about presentation - sound, visual effects. You'd have thought that approach would work in the horror genre, but in this one, he's truly plunged to new depths. The desperation to scare you with effects and sound and every horror movie cliché rather than through good writing sees so many red herrings strewn all over the place, it becomes a joke, and very quickly. With even teenagars joining in the fun.

The story is something they came up with from memory, since Bollywood had a movie called Gehrayee in 1980 starring Padmini Kolhapure, and Hollywood had something called The Exorcist in 1973, and if you mix these two and remove depth and creativity from both, you get Phoonkh. Rajeev (Sudeep) is a rich builder with a happy family consisting of wife Aarti (Amrutha), and kids Raksha (Ahsaas Channa) and Rohan (Shrey Bawa). He fires his managers Anshuman (Kenny Desai) and his wife Madhu (Ashwini Kalsekar) when he catches them embezzling his money, and the fiesty and idiosyncractic Madhu swears revenge.

Slowly unusual things start happening at Rajeev's house - Raksha goes missing, and when found can't recollect how she wandered off, she keeps staring at crows, and she growls menacingly at her teacher in the full class, in a masculine drawl. Doctors and psychiatrists are brought in when the situation worsens and she starts getting violent, but the grandmother and mother slowly start believing it's black magic. Rajeev is however an atheist, and will have none of it. Raksha though is slowly losing it, and when she levitates one day, Rajeev finally decides to do something unorthodox.

Phoonk is actually boring, a feat for a horror movie, and incredible for those used to Varma's filmmaking standards. It has so much bullshit unrelated to the story - a million ominous shots of statues and dolls in the house, and those umpteen close-ups of actually blasé crows, being the signature of the utter creative bankruptcy characterizing the film - that you can't believe Varma was actually directly associated with the project. Whatever little horror there is turns out to be the dream of a character rather than anything that's really happened, and when the next time some real horror happens it again turns out to be a dream, you realize how low on their priority list writing is.

Almost nothing happens in the first half, and the second is some of the violent scenes of The Exorcist minus the innovative parts (and that challenge to watch that movie alone is strictly for the birds). Some of the religious lines and chants play a good part in killing the movie with just how corny and ill-timed they are - and it doesn't help their case that towards the end God doesn't play a role at all. Perhaps the only good thing about the film is that there are no songs.

Ahsaas is brilliant as the daughter, and the performances are in general good, and try their best to rise above the writing. The film is made by its technical values, of course - this is all said and done an RGV movie, and the thumping background score and the eerie camera work do their bit for the watchability.

If you are really in the mood for some horror, watching Phoonkh after this review should not be disappointing, since your expectations would be pretty low. That's the real secret to liking this - not a challenge to watch it alone in a theatre.
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PHOONK SNAPSHOT
Phoonk (hindi) reviews
USER RATING
5.3
3 USERS
RATE
Rating is quick and easy - try it!
  • Cast
    Sudeep, Amrutha Khanvilkar, Ahsaas Channa, Shrey Bawa, Zakir Hussain, Ashwini Kalsekar, Kenny Desai
  • Music
    Amar Mohile
  • Director
    Ram Gopal Varma
  • Theatres
    Not screening currently in any theatres in Hyderabad.
TOP COMMENT
rahul on 23rd Aug 2008, 10:37pm | Permalink
I think the reviewer has gone nuts... RGV's last but one movie Sarkar raaj is a hit... last movie contract is a flop

anyways I really dont think RGV cares about these kind of reviews he makes movie only for himself and not for audience...

Reviewer...when a movie like Phoonk is made for less than 4 crores and it grosses more than 5 crores on the weekend alone can you tell me whether thats a flop or hit
3
0
USER RATING
8.0
PHOONK USER REVIEWS
1 - 6 OF 6 COMMENTS
POSITIVE  |  NEGATIVE |  NEWEST  |  OLDEST  |  MOST HELPFUL  |  LEAST HELPFUL
USER RATING
5.3
3 USERS
Performances
Script
Music/Soundtrack
Visuals
7.0
5.3
5.7
6.7
Can watch again - No
Good for kids - No
Good for dates - Yes
Wait to rent it - Yes
Krishna on 1st Sep 2008, 12:49pm | Permalink
Oh god this was such a downer!! There is NOTHING scary in Phoonk and irritating shots of dolls and other figurines does not a horror movie make.

This response is for Rahul - In India a hit or a flop is not declared based on ROI unlike in the US. It's all at the distributors table. That's why even a film like Sarkar Raj is not considered hit even after grossing 35 crs. because the distributors suffered losses based on the price it was sold to them by the producer. Whereas a Jannat is considered a superhit because it would've sold at a comparitively low price and raked in about 25 crs.

Pros: No songs
Cons: No scares
RATING
4
firefly on 28th Aug 2008, 9:55am | Permalink
@rahul - what am i missing? there's nothing about phoonk on that link at all. or is this one of those ploys where a person quotes a source under the assumption that no one will check it?
rahul on 27th Aug 2008, 11:01pm | Permalink
@ Firefly

http://www.boxofficeindia.com/showProd.php?itemCat=131
Lucifer on 26th Aug 2008, 12:24pm | Permalink
Ah, the rediff.com data gets presented. Rediff means "Read if you have nothing else to do". They write articles that thrill, enrage, disgust, flummox. In short, they entertain. That is where the buck stops really.

http://www.glamsham.com/movies/scoops/08/jun/16-sarkar-raj-is-a-success-060805.asp
http://www.ibosnetwork.com/newsmanager/templates/template1.aspx?articleid=21392
firefly on 24th Aug 2008, 12:10pm | Permalink
@rahul: sarkar raj was a flop - see here:

http://specials.rediff.com/movies/2008/jun/09box.htm

as for your other comments, i think the review says what you did - that rgv does not make movies for audiences any more.

finally, give the source for your numbers, and also realize that a review tries to tell people whether they will like the movie - it's easy to get a weekend gross on a low-cost movie before people figure out that it's lousy.

Pros: sound, visuals
Cons: script, everything else
RATING
4
rahul on 23rd Aug 2008, 10:37pm | Permalink
I think the reviewer has gone nuts... RGV's last but one movie Sarkar raaj is a hit... last movie contract is a flop

anyways I really dont think RGV cares about these kind of reviews he makes movie only for himself and not for audience...

Reviewer...when a movie like Phoonk is made for less than 4 crores and it grosses more than 5 crores on the weekend alone can you tell me whether thats a flop or hit
RATING
8
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