Last week, it was SAAWAN - THE LOVE SEASON. This week, it's EIGHT - SHANI. Although the two stories are diverse as chalk and cheese, the common thread that binds them is that both talk of supernatural forces.
Perhaps, it's the first time that an entire Hindi film talks about the after-effects of Shani. In that respect, yes, EIGHT - SHANI has a novel theme as its USP. But it's the execution of the subject that acts as a spoilsport.
What could've been a chilling experience runs out of steam halfway through the narrative. It's only towards the climax that the viewer starts getting involved. But it's too late by then!
Raj [Raj Tara] lives with his brother Suraj [Gulshan Grover] and sister-in-law Radha [Padmini Kolhapure] in U.K. Raj is a clairvoyant; he sees souls and spirits with his compass. Suraj thinks Raj is a good for nothing guy, while Radha sides her brother-in-law.
But one night changes everything: The spirit of Kamini [Vastavikta] targets their home. A disturbed Suraj blames Raj for the chain of events and throws him out.
Raj seeks help from his friend Sadhvi and does chanting. The mystery deepens as the figure of 'eight' appears on Sadhvi's back in blood. Sadhvi concludes that whatever is happening is due to the anger of Shani [Saturn].
The attacks continue at Suraj's household and he is forced to seek Raj's help. Raj, Suraj and Radha move out of their London home to Balwant's [Raju Kher] farmhouse. But the spirit of Kamini continues to haunt them.
The moment the reels of EIGHT - SHANI begin to unfold, you get the feeling that the plot is similar to NAINA/NAZAR, which in turn were inspired by Pang Brothers' Cantonese-Thai language film JIAN GUI [THE EYE]. Meaning, the protagonist can actually see spirits. But there's a twist in the tale the moment Vastavikta enters the scene. The mystery surrounding her character is slightly interesting. You are eager to know the motive behind her wrath.
In the second hour too, the story appeals when the spirit of Vastavikta follows the family everywhere. The last 20 minutes of the enterprise, starting with Gulshan Grover spilling the beans, right till the end, keep your attention focused on screen.
But EIGHT - SHANI is not without its share of deficiencies. One, the execution of the subject material ranges from ordinary to tacky. Two, the love story, involving Raj Tara and Meghna Naidu, just doesn't appeal. And three, the songs that follow only act as a hindrance. Ideally, EIGHT - SHANI should've either been a songless film or if need be, just one song [the eerie track filmed on Meghna/Vastavikta] could've been used.
Karan Razdan's writing and execution leaves a lot to be desired. Although he has opted for a plot that's identifiable by most Indians, it's the unwanted sub-plots [romance, songs] and the execution at times that could've been worked upon.
Daboo Malik's music is lackluster. The songs sound monotonous and barring the eerie track, which has a haunting feel, the remaining compositions sound monotonous. Cinematography [Rajendra Prasad] looks like a rushed job. Special effects are outright tacky.
Raj Tara is decent in portions, but needs to control his expressions and voice during hi-pitch scenes. Meghna Naidu is only there to add to the glamour quotient. Vastavikta looks the character, although she could've been more expressive in the flashback portions.
Gulshan Grover and Padmini Kolhapure are passable. Gulshan, however, impresses in the outburst scene. Raju Kher hams. The actress enacting the role of Sadhvi is okay.
On the whole, EIGHT - SHANI is a good concept that could've worked had it been executed with panache. At the box-office, the lack of an aggressive promotion and face-value will go against it.