Pari is Anushka Sharma‘s third project as a producer and a testament to her avid interest in darker things. She changed the game after producing and starring in NH10 and with Pari, it looks like she will be pioneering the movement of showcasing more twisted female characters in Bollywood. Her fearlessness in letting go of all vanity and playing an animal-like creature shows how brave she is as an actress. Bengali superstar Parambrata Chatterjee plays Arnab – the shy, straight-laced hero, who is unwillingly drawn to this woman he finds shackled in a cave.
Like Kahaani (which also stars Parambrata), Pari is set in Kolkata – a very rainy and very ‘blue’ Kolkata which could be mistaken for the moors Emily Bronte wrote about in Wuthering Heights or the sets of Sanjay Leela Bhansali‘s Saawariya. The love story (if we can call it that) has major Gothic undertones too. But the genders here have been switched. While we usually read about a virtuous, shy and introvert female protagonist falling for the brooding, handsome, rakish to the point of being animal-istic heroes, Pari does the opposite. Arnab, who is accompanied by his ‘arranged marriage’ date, runs over Pari’s mother on a rainy day, the guilt of which makes him reach out to Ruksana (Anushka Sharma) – a strange girl, who has been kept away from normal civilization for a long, long time. Rajat Kapoor plays Qasim Ali, a professor from Bangladesh, who could totally find a best friend in Mad-Eye Moody from the Harry Potter series.
The film delves into themes like black magic, cults, genocide, rape and lusty monsters who come into the world for the sole purpose of seducing human beings. Arnab and Ruksana’s twisted relationship takes a bit of a turn when she reaches Fatal Attraction levels of possessiveness. But unlike the Michael Douglas-Glenn Close starrer, moments in this movie steer towards female bonding instead of the ‘two women fighting over the man’ trope we’ve seen often. Pari has funny moments too – like Ruksana’s fascination with cartoons or taking love advice from a Bollywood movie that stars Akshay Kumar and Priyanka Chopra. But the problem here is the script. A lot of elements have been crammed into the film and sadly, justice is served to very few. There are scenes where a lot of people closed their eyes or looked away because of the graphic content, but all of these things don’t amount to much if you’re mostly confused.
Debutant director Prosit Roy shows promise as he has managed to deliver a pretty twisted movie with an A-list actor. Parambrata is great at playing a hapless man, intrigued and attracted to a mysterious woman, who will most definitely ruin his life as we’ve seen in Kahaani. Rajat Kapoor is terrifying as Qasim Ali. And of course, Anushka Sharma shows us the immense talent she has once again. Ruksana could have been over the top, screechy and clawing, but Anushka adds a certain level of calmness to a character that is batshit insane.
Pari is definitely worth a watch over the long weekend, just don’t expect the world from this fairy as fairytales do tend to disappoint in real life, even the strangest ones out there.