There is a curious and damning dichotomy to the experience of viewing this horror-sex movie. While you salute the film’s raw and edgy homage to the horror genre, it is this very authentic take on the terror theme that sets your teeth on edge.
Never have we seen a horror film that horrifies and revolts to the extent that we the audience are caught in a claustrophobic crises. This is a film whose integrity towards the genre works against it. As you watch the supernatural terror unfold in what looks like reams and reams of repugnant realism you are shaken to the core.
When at one point the girl’s hands are pinned to the bed, we are reminded of the mountaineer in Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours whose hand was trapped under a rock. The references are constantly tongue-in-shriek. But if the cinema-viewing experience is all about getting entertained, then Ragini MMS is an abject failure. It raises the bar of horrific and graphic depiction of psychological and physical torture to an all-time high and the entertainment value of cinema dips to an all-time low.
The technique of shooting the couple with hand-held shaky video-graphic camera movements comes from American para-normal cinema. But the savage humour and brutal terror of a girl being left alone with a ghoul in a house after her boyfriend’s gory death is purely desi…and so palpable, you find yourself jumping out of your skin quite often.
Debutant director Pawan Kriplani has a firm grip over the trauma-quotient. The script cleverly synthesizes the scares with the sex which by the way, never goes beyond foreplay ….very serious foreplay, we might add.
In terms of the comfort that the lead displays in the bedroom sequence Ragini MMS achieves a new level of realism. Raj Kumar Yadav and Kainaz Motivala playing the MMS-starring predator and the victim of sex-recording, respectively are fully credible. Yadav specially is an absolute natural. In his speech, body-language and utter disdain for the rules of celluloid hero-giri he invents a completely new language for his character.
Interestingly, Yadav had earlier played the predator who traps an innocent girl into sex on camera in Dibakar Banerjee’s Love Sex Aur Dhoka. Yadav interprets the character in Ragini MMS as being much more loutish, arrogant, selfish and….yes, horny.
Yadav’s character’s death signals the end of the crackling livewire atmosphere that the film creates with effortless insouciance. Once he’s brutally slain by the unseen ghost the film quickly clambers into a chamber of suffocating horror. The humour, alas, abandons the last segment of this otherwise-engaging but hardly-entertaining tale of a ghoul, a girl and a guy trapped in a house where untold horrors become a buzzword.
The spoken language in Ragini MMS is sleazier more explicit than in any recent or remote film. There are innumerable references to the sex act and its inbuilt pleasures which are bound to make conservative elements cringe in their seats.
Ragini MMS is not a film for the squeamish. But then, it’s hard to determine whom it is really aimed at. At heart it is a rather sad morality tale about the gen-x girls who set off on adventurous weekend dates with boys they hardly know, only to encounter ghouls that they know even less.
We could look at the chudail in the haunted house as a metaphor for the demons of illicit pleasure. But I don’t think this film wants us to slip into the comfort-zone of abstract interpretations. It’s all there in stark graphic lascivious detail. Rest assured, this is the kind of hardcore what-you-see-is-what-you get cinema where when a character says he’s coming, he is certainly not referring to what his feet can do.