Horror is a genre that I feel is most shoddily executed in Hindi cinema. Scenes and bits that are meant to scare you, actually either turn out to be laughable or cringey. The best horror film to have come out of India in the last decade, in my opinion, is Tumbbad. Horror requires patience and a set-up, which many films fail to deliver on. So, when it was announced that director Vishal Furia was remaking his Marathi horror success, Lapachhapi, as Chhorii with Nushrratt Bharuccha in the lead, I didn’t have much expectations from it. But boy! Have I been proven wrong.
Chhorii features Nushrratt as an eight-month pregnant woman who, along with her husband, moves to a secluded house in the middle of a sugarcane field while running away from goons. The house belongs to their driver and his wife. What initially seems as a nice little humble abode away from the hustle and bustle, slowly unravels the secrets from its history, taking you on a scary and wild ride. Apart from Nushrratt, the film also features Mita Vashisht as the driver’s wife, Rajesh Jais, Saurabh Goyal and Yaneea Bharadwaj. It is produced by Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Vikram Malhotra, Jack Davis, Shikhaa Sharma and Shiv Chanana, and is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Before I get into my thoughts, let’s take a look at the film’s trailer.
Check out the trailer here:
Things that I liked:
1. Nushrratt, Mita and their equation
Nushrratt has that capability that no matter what character she plays, she makes you believe that she is indeed that person, and this film is no different. She plays the role of a pregnant women stuck in an unknown place to the T. She makes you feel scared, emotional, sad and happy with her, and for her. The actress has evolved leaps and bounds since her debut and that shows in her first project as a headliner. There was a scene in the trailer where I felt that Nushrratt’s voice in the dialogue sounded so out of place, but while seeing the film, you realise it’s all in the context it’s supposed to. Also, another master of acting in the film is Mita. You completely forget that she is actually not a rural woman in reality. Her change in emotions and expressions are so subtle and effective that she pulls you into her world and you have no option but to comply. Both these actresses feed on each other’s energy, making their scenes together like a masterclass of acting. I have to say, the film belongs to its women.
2. Setting of the base
One of the most important things for any horror film is to set up a base about the how and why of the things and Vishal does exactly that here. In just over a two-hour film, the director takes the first hour to build the set up for what’s about to happen, so it all feels very cohesive and not abrupt when anything strange happens.
3. The sugarcane field
I have to say that the field plays a character in itself in the film. The eerie environment it creates supports the narrative and it actually plays a metaphor for the storyline in the film and has an important role in the climax. The sugarcane field pulls you in such a way that at one time you forget you are a viewer and feel trapped in the middle of nowhere yourself.
4. Horror element and messaging
What I liked about the film is that it didn’t go overboard with the VFX, especially considering it premiered on OTT. The digital screen can’t give the effect that VFX have on the big screens. The horror element never feels forced or out of place, and that is what makes it effective and more than feeling scared you feel connected to the supernatural element, thus making it more credible. Also, the messaging at the end doesn’t seem to be just put there. The writers and director have taken their time to establish the groundwork behind it and that is why it hits you home in the climax.
A special mention needs to be given to Yaneea who, even with a limited screen time, was so powerful and convincing in her story and made me as an audience connect to her on so many levels.
Things that could have been better:
1. The men in the film
Now Chhorii was always clearly a film about its women and they have delivered and how. But their hold on their craft was so well that even though the men, especially Sourabh as Nushrratt’s husband, didn’t give a bad performance but seemed weak in front of Nushrratt and Mita.
2. The trailer
A film’s trailer is supposed to create intrigue amongst the audience for the film, but I feel that Chhorii’s trailer was its biggest drawback as it couldn’t capture the true essence of the film that made it a must watch. Most of the scenes in the film are such that you need a context for them to know why is it happening like that, but a trailer doesn’t give you the chance to do that. So, if you are someone who decide to skip this film on the basis of the trailer, you’d be missing a great film.
For me, I feel what worked as an advantage is that I haven’t watched the Marathi original, so the film was a fresh subject for me. Thus, I could feel and relate to what the director and actors were trying to convey. Chhorii exceeds expectations and announces the arrival of Nushrratt in the big leagues. It has a top-notch storyline, setting, direction and top-class performances. It has made my weekend, and it will do the same for whoever watches it.
My verdict: 4 out of 5