Schizophrenia aur bhoot-pret mein zyaada farq nahin hai. Bas science isse nahin maanti hai.” Those are a doctor’s pearls of wisdom in Raaz 3, and the line that probably defines the state of mind in which this ditsy trip was created.
Raaz 3 unfolds like a film that was written, directed and produced in fits of hallucination. Director Vikram Bhatt does well with a few genuine scary moments in the first half before giving up on all such efforts post interval. May be he hoped the 3D gimmick would do enough to make profits.
This is the film you get when you punch stock Hollywood-style creepy shots with Bollywood-style melodrama, the standard Bhatt-style sex quotient thrown in. Which is what the Bhatts did over two Raaz flicks to create a brand. Raaz 3 was merely about cashing in on that brand name.
The new Raaz focuses on black magic and witchcraft. The superstitious subject material gets a Bollywood backdrop – Bipasha Basu and Esha Gupta play film actresses while Emraan Hashmi is a director. The drama at the core is triggered off by professional rivalry and jealousy in love, ideas that Vikram Bhatt has toyed with in his 2006 dud, Ankahee. Raaz 3 tries serving the Ankahee script with some fear factor thrown in.
Shagufta Rafique’s script presents Bipasha in the central role of Bollywood superstar Shanaya, whose world comes crashing with the advent of starlet Sanjana (Esha Gupta). At the bat of her pretty eyelids, Sanjana has stolen Shanaya’s professional thunder. Worse, her object of affection, filmmaker Aditya (Emraan Hashmi), falls for Sanjana too.
Hounded out of the limelight by the budding superstar, Shanaya turns to black magic to destroy Sanjana’s life.
For all the publicity clamour, the scares remain pretty mediocre. Raaz 3 is a horror film that clearly had its priorities elsewhere. The focus was on rolling out a vintage Bhatt package and the film doesn’t try doing much else. It is a love triangle, Emraan Hashmi plays the sly fox who nonetheless has his heart in the right place, the heroine is a damsel in distress (in this case, distress is defined by Bipasha and her black magic), and there is enough sleaze and sleazy dialogues. If that mix sounds like the raaz behind all Bhatt hits, this film keeps it together.
And yes, both Bipasha and Esha get liberal scope to show off booty. A Bhatt film where the heroines don’t get to flaunt it is unimaginable, after all.
Bipasha looks hot in her starring role but Esha reveals a few raw edges. Emraan looks bored (except when he has to kiss the girl). May be, he realised soon enough there is not much for him to do here.
Although director Vikram Bhatt’s approach leans more toward a bludgeon than a scalpel, the film is saved by the beguiling Bipasha Basu as Shanaya Shekhar, an actress so desperate to stay on top that she’s willing to do anything — up to and including making love to a demon — in order to curse the career of Sanjana Krishna (Esha Gupta).
Vishesh Films’ releases nearly always make a healthy profit, due to the production house’s skill at keeping costs low and selling their films’ music and satellite rights high, and Raaz 3 will be no exception, in India at least. Overseas Indian audiences are bound to be curious, thanks to Raaz 3’s promise of sex and violence — Vishesh’s last film was Jism 2, after all — but even though Raaz 3 is the first Indian film to receive an R rating from the MPAA, its sex is pretty tame and the violence cartoonish.
Like most of Vishesh’s other recent titles, this film, which was shot in 3D, has been released on a limited number of screens outside of India (this review is based on the 2D version).
Shanaya (Basu) has it all: a hot movie career and a devoted boyfriend who happens to be a movie director, Aditya (Emraan Hashmi). But when Shanaya is passed over for an industry award in favor of ingénue Sanjana (Gupta), the older actress is cut to the core. Complicating matters is the fact that the two women are half-sisters, and that they competed for the love of their father while growing up.
Shanaya’s sadness turns to rage; she tracks down a black magician who makes a potion that will make Sanjana suffer, and enlists Aditya to give it to her. But as Aditya becomes closer to Sanjana, he comes to realize that she doesn’t deserve the pain that Shanaya is trying to inflict on her and turns on Shanaya to protect her. This makes Shanaya so furious that she raises the stakes, and all three become caught in a bloody supernatural battle in the zone between life and death.
Although the film is the third in Vishesh Films’ hit Raaz series, and Basu also starred in the first film, it’s not a sequel in the strict sense. Bhatt has made a number of scary movies, but here he doesn’t offer much that’s new or original, relying instead on a blaring soundtrack and standard-issue fright elements such as a crazed clown, buckets of blood and a maggoty corpse on the loose.
The script (Sagufta Rafique) has a few good lines, and the story keeps the viewer’s interest, though the film drags at well over two hours. The swarthy Hashmi, the nephew of Raaz 3’s producer Mahesh Bhatt, does a forgettable job; while Gupta, a former Femina Miss India, conveys an innocent charm.
If there is a reason to see this film at all, it’s to bask in the glow of Bipasha Basu.
Basu was born fabulous — and in this film, she rocks it with fierce black eyeliner, three-inch red-and-orange nails, and a famously toned body which she shows off in some memorable dance numbers (her exercise videos are understandably hot sellers in India). As Shanaya, Basu, no stranger to villainous roles, seems to relish the opportunity to get as bad as she can get, and here, she uses her husky voice and feline grace to great effect.
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