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SCREEN: THE GHOST OF COMPETENCE

Updated February 17, 2019

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In Amavas, a ghost sings a haunting melody and then zips through corridors in a gush of wind in front of the movie’s hero (Sachin Joshi). The ghost, I assume, was trying to catch its runaway shadow which seems to have a mind of its own, and slinks away under closed doors.

Alas, the ghost ain’t Peter Pan, but panned the movie will be.

Amavas, written by Aparna Nadig and Tanya Pathak, based on the story by Jody Medland, is more or less a checklist of done to death “boo” moments that haunt a rich couple in their summer home — a big old manor in England. Why they go there makes as much as sense as anything else in the movie.

For convenience sake, we have two people — Karan and Ahana (Joshi, Nargis Fakhri) — in love. She is a bubbly atheist who is three-feet too tall for her boyfriend; he is rich, utterly grumpy, short and stout. Their biggest problem — other than the lack of acting and chemistry — would be making sure that Fakhri’s character doesn’t wear heels on set.

While Karan, thinking he looks cool in glasses and an unshaven face, complains of headaches, Ahana tries to find romance in their humdrum lives.

One night, she coyly (as coyly as she can, that is) denies him a kiss, beckoning him to come get her, and runs into a patch of trees on the estate. While she is barely out of sight, Karan chooses to ignore the invitation, and heads back inside. The audience is happy for her, because when they do consummate their relationship, the people in the cinema can’t help but avert their eyes.

The couple have the chemistry of dead wood — like Joshi’s acting — and one can’t help but cackle at the amateurism on screen. After the intermission break, the two are joined by a psychiatrist (Mona Singh) as the plot heads for its big reveal. Only, there isn’t one. But then again, there isn’t much of anything in the film, except unwarranted moments of laughter.

Director Bhushan Patel is an old hand at making shoddy horror films (his filmography includes 1920: The Evil Returns, Alone and Ragini MMS 2). Choosing to be as frugal as possible, the scenes are restricted to a corridor, a staircase, an old window and the bedroom of the summer home.

Karan and Ahana only venture to the great outdoors when no one is around, stylishly posing or walking around in deserted locations for romantic songs (their height difference is amplified in these scenes).

When the ghost finally reveals itself, and then bites off a hand with an Om tattoo because it burned him bad, you realise that even atheists can’t deny the power religion has over demons.

Running away won’t save the heroines in the film (there are many actresses in the cast) ... however, running away from the ticket window might help the handful of people thinking about shelling out money on this laughably bad attempt at horror.

Published in Dawn, ICON, February 17th, 2019