Vampire Owl: I hope that she doesn’t have vampirophobia. I really hope that she doesn’t.
Vampire Bat: I believe that the exact term for the same is sanguivoriphobia.
Vampire Owl: What? Who on Earth comes up with such strange names? Who even gets that at first attempt?
Vampire Bat: Well, they call it the fear for blood eaters.
Vampire Owl: How can someone actually eat blood? And we are vegetarian vampires; we have suitable replacements instead.
Vampire Bat: It doesn’t count. Humans are masters of generalisation, and they create opinions based on that.
Vampire Owl: We should have a phobia of them instead – unless they are all dead.
Vampire Bat: You are in no position to call an event which causes human extinction. They have to cause their own downfall.
Vampire Owl: It is something that I have always believed in.
Vampire Bat: Just make sure that Wonder Woman won’t murder you after naming you Ares, the God of War.
[Gets three cups of special tea with Tiger biscuits].
What is the movie about? :: Mehak Deo (Radhika Apte), a talented artist who is quite popular with her friends, attends almost every party in the town, becoming more of the popular girl in the city. But after being molested by a taxi driver on a terrible night, she develops the worst of agoraphobia, which keeps her away from public places and large groups, as she keeps herself inside the house and mostly in her room. Living in the same house as her sister Anusha (Nivedita Bhattacharya), it gets worse for everyone, as her actions remain more and more uncontrollable and unbearable for all. With the eccentric and unpredictable nature affecting Anusha’s little kid too, they all feel done with helping her, because it seems to be of no use, and Mehak herself doesn’t want to be treated, staying inside home without making an attempt to go out for months.
So, what happens next? :: Shaan (Satyadeep Mishra), Mehak’s good friend decides to help her, and gets her to an apartment which is empty for now after its previous occupant decided to move away. He hopes that this change, and life alone will be better for her, and she will start longing to meet people after this. At the new place, she seems to have some visions, and she feels that there is something sinister about these particular visions. She has two neighbours there with whom she gets to talk often, one of them being Nikki (Yashaswini Dayama), who is a graduate student who lives on the flat on the right, while on the left side, there lives Manu (Ankur Vikal) who had anger management issues and is using laughter to fight the same. The latter used to be in a relationship with a woman called Jiah Khurana (Amrit Bagchi) who had left the place.
And, what is to follow next in the adventure? :: It turns out that Jiah was living in the same apartment in which Mahek is living right now. Knowing that the girl had disappeared without telling anyone, and that there is no clue of where she is, Mahek begins to feel that there is a big mystery behind the same. She comes up with the idea that an angry Manu had killed Jiah and has hidden her body in his apartment. Mehak also feels that her visions are from Jiah’s spirit which is trying to tell her something about the demise. Shaan feels that this is all part of her disease, and that she is having so many hallucinations. Her psychiatrist (Faezeh Jalali) also confirms that Mahek’s condition is worsening every day, and there is not much that can be done unless she is taken to a mental asylum. But Nikki is curious, and decides to help Mehak in finding the truth behind the missing girl. Now the question remains about what really is the truth here.
The defence of Phobia :: There is one thing about which you can be cent percent sure, and it is that Phobia won’t be like any other movie which you have seen in Bollywood, and in psychological horror, it explores more territories, and most of these areas are divergent. The story is nicely presented right from the beginning, and it keeps you wondering what is happening, and what is to follow. The visuals nicely match the overall mood of the movie, and there are some scenes which are particularly great and deserves our attention. Radhika Apte is once again too good, as you would expect her to be – she is that kind of an actress who has more in store for us than anyone from Bollywood, and it is a fact that you just can’t ignore. There are moments from her which you are going to remember for so long. The next one to make the impact is Yashaswini Dayama who keep the curious college girl act going on very nicely.
The claws of flaw :: One can say without doubt that Phobia is not a movie for everyone; I am sure that it might have already been established by many others in one way or the other which randomly talking about the flick. There are also logic flaws in this movie, and her living alone in the flat is nothing less than strange, and having a knife near her when she goes into the virtual reality is rather comfortable. The way in which the mystery is finally solved is also rather strange, when it could have taken a rather direct approach. The climax had potential to be something more, and for some reason, it chooses not to live up to the fantastic build-up in the first half, and finish the movie on a high. The audience is left clueless on a lot of occasions, and more scary moments could have been built regarding the neighbour and other residents of the apartments. When you have an apartment where someone with a mental problem living alone, there is always scope for more.
How it finishes :: Phobia demands that you take things differently, and get your thinking procedure to go another way, which has almost no relation with a regular Bollywood movie; all that those movies are, this movie is not. It is where movies like Phobia and Raman Raghav 2.0 scores, and it is also what we strive to have. Otherwise, Bollywood can only focus on biopics, and tales inspired from real life incidents like Neerja, Rustom and Airlift, which they need to keep the ship sailing in the right direction. It is during such times that this movie does go against the flow, and what we can do is to appreciate the effort and watch this movie without second thoughts about how it will make us feel, and how well it can relate when we haven’t watched similar movies before.
Release date: 27th May 2016
Running time: 99 minutes
Directed by: Pavan Kirpalani
Starring: Radhika Apte, Yashaswini Dayama, Satyadeep Mishra, Ankur Vikal, Nivedita Bhattacharya, Amrita Bagchi, Faezeh Jalali, Salone Mehta, Arush Nand, Dinyar Tirandaz, Amit Kumar Pandey, Malhar Goenka
@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.