Raksha is a remake - almost scene-to-scene - of Phoonk
, and if you have already watched Phoonk, it's like walking over a bed of live coals once again since the coals this time are from a different supplier and so there's a chance you may have a pleasant experience this time. The nightmares of Phoonk are all intact in Raksha - the meaningless close-ups of assorted household items, random camerawork, jolting background music in plenty of irrelevant places in shameless attempts to scare, and a general strategy of using scary scenes as an end in themselves rather than because they are part of a cohesive narrative. A zillion scenes (1 zillion = 1 billion billion) don't make sense in the end. And that's understating it.
On the brighter side, there's no crow anywhere. (There's no one alive who's watched Phoonk and didn't wonder what the crows were all about anyway.)
Raksha is the story of Rajiv (Jagapati), wife Swati (Kalyani) and young daughter Raksha (Neha). When Rajiv, a successful realtor, fires Venu (Rajiv Kanakala) and his wife Madhu (Satya Krishna) for embezzling his money, they start using black magic to traumatize Raksha. Atheist Rajiv does not accept for a long time that this is supernatural stuff, preferring instead to rely on normal doctors and psychiatrists, despite the warnings of his wife, mother (Radha Kumari) and even maid (Bhargavi). Things however reach a stage where the doctors throw up their hands, and Rajiv needs to finally look out of the box.
Like its Hindi version Phoonk, Raksha is slow, and full of red herrings - attempts to scare you through shots and background music effects, though most times the actual scene aimed at frightening you has nothing to do with the story or the black magic at all, examples being all the ominous close-ups of random objects before the black magic has even started. It betrays a lack of capability in writing a well-rounded script/screenplay where everything makes sense in the end. We are going to watch a movie, not a loosely connected assortment of scary shots.
Which brings us to the script and screenplay - it's amusing to see the exact same story and screenplay have different credits in Hindi and in Telugu. The Hindi version is credited to Ram Gopal Varma, and the Telugu one to a Vamsi Krishna Akella. And what was the reason for making a Telugu version anyway?
Jagapati is better as an actor now, but you can still see the frailties in the heavy-duty scenes. The kid Neha playing Raksha is not good enough, especially compared to her Hindi counterpart. Thanks is part to that, the movie simply does not scare. The other performances mostly pass muster, except that of Satya Krishna (the wife in the fired couple), who is clearly a misfit.
Sanatan Baba, a witch-doctor played by Pradeep Rawat, is an example of how childishly the film tries to scare - his eyeballs are completely white (and those tacky effects...). The background score is tailored to scare, but the movie betrays it.
Raksha is good for no one. If it's scares and thrills you are looking for, try this one