Five minutes into Phoonk you wonder why it isnâ€™t called Ram Gopal Varma Ki Phoonk. Every scene, every dialogue and every character in Phoonk is something that you have seen many times over in many other RGV films. The jumping-out-of-your-skin background score of Bhoot, the ominous feeling of an unseen terror of Raat and even the central character of a child plagued by evil forces in Vaastu Shastra, Phoonk evokes a strong sense of deja vu. Which may well have been fine but for the fact that nostalgia isnâ€™t always a good thing. Phoonk may well be a tribute to earlier RGV films â€” even a bits-and-pieces remake of some â€” but it has nothing of its own to offer.
With black magic as its central theme, Phoonk traces the trials and tribulations of a family whose young daughter falls prey to the evils of witchcraft and jadootona. With the wafer-thin
plot not having the steam to even trudge through the first few reels, the director relies on everything else to drag us through the rest of the film. Crows, owls, black cats, strange
characters that seem to pop out from nowhere, ordinary household objects becoming sinister vehicles of terror, camera jumpstarts, the play of light and shade... too much of Phoonk
goes into building a sense of foreboding.
But at no point of time does Phoonk make you jump up in your seat or shut your eyes in fright. And for a film that touts itself to be the scariest ever (at least in Bollywood), this definitely
isnâ€™t good news.
Besides Raat and Bhoot, Phoonk also revisits some other horror films, but needless to say never quite manages to recreate their brilliance. So the spirit-possession scene which gave one goosebumps in The Exorcist (â€œIt is the scariest film I have seen,â€ RGV has confessed) is at best a two-minute dangle in the air in Phoonk, and the toy that wreaked so much havoc in Childâ€™s Play is but a silent spectator in the RGV scheme of things.
The largely unspectacular performances make Phoonk an even more ordinary film. Kannada star Sudeep contorts his face in every possible way, but remains as wooden as ever.
Child actor Ahsaas Channa is too adult in expression and too studied in her performance to evoke any kind of sympathy from the audience. And small screen vamp Ashwini Kalsekarâ€™s loud act is even worse than Nisha Kothariâ€™s in Aag. Reach out for your ear plugs to combat Amar Mohileâ€™s music score.
Ram Gopal Varma had promised a briefcase full of cash to the viewer brave enough to sit through Phoonk in an empty hall. Can we at least get a briefcase for suffering yet another RGV horror show?