The weekend is finally here and there are plenty of new releases to cater to. So without wasting any time, lets get to them one by one. First up, I finished watching the new Hindi film Gaslight which is now streaming on Hotstar. One of the main reasons as to why I was looking forward to watching Gaslight was its unique cast. It is not everyday that you get to watch Vikrant Massey, Sara Ali Khan and Chitrangda Singh onscreen together. And to top it, the film was touted to be a whodunnit which itself is such an exciting genre if done correctly.
To balance my excitement, my main fears from the film did lay with its director Pavan Kripalani whose filmography did not exude any confidence at all. Keeping Phobia aside, a film that I had loved, none of his other films did manage to impress me although Ragini MMS had done well financially. He had also missed the mark with his previous outing, Bhoot Police, which was a good concept marred with poor execution. So with much hope and skepticism, I did venture into Gaslight. Does it manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
Gaslight follows the story of a paraplegic girl who visits her home only to find out that something is amiss with respect to her enstranged father who mysteriously has disappeared. What is the truth? The story here is decent but if you dig deeper, it is so generic that it doesn’t quite engage you for most parts. If the film is being touted as a whodunnit then there should be excitement in play with a guessing game being played at the side. But the promos of the film were cut in such a way that the cat was out of the bag even before the film was out. And that is quite a shame! The screenplay standing at a shade under 2 hours does make for a taut watch but ideally I would have liked it to be more eventful.
The drama does open with the introduction of the protagonist who does visit her home after a while. I did like that the writers did invest in building the mood of the drama with the weather around the place. So it is seeing raining that signifies a storm brewing in the palace. This theme is maintained throughout the film which was good to watch. The slow buildup does ensure that you are acquainted with all the major players slowly but surely. The film also scores the best when it is trying to build the tension around the supernatural elements in atleast 2 to 3 set pieces. Those scenes are executed very well and add to the mystery of the drama with a tinge of horror. But I wish I could say the same thing about the rest of the film!
The proceedings are half-baked and just do not exude the confidence in the minds of the viewers. Ideally after the initial setup, the film did need to shift gears and make the proceedings more eventful. But instead, you are served with dull representations of the drama with stray incidents that just do not allow you to invest in them. The characterization was also weak and that did result in weak character dynamics too. At no point did I feel that I need to start the guessing game, and that is because the mystery element of the film wasn’t given as much importance too. Even the first twist in the tale was half-hearted and I could see that coming from a distance.
The events leading up to the final act are also not executed properly. I honestly feel that the drama in every scene needed to be simmered for a few more minutes to actually be termed as layered. It almost seemed that the makers were in a rush to move onto the next scene and that really did impact the scene which was in progress. As a result, the ultimate twist in the tale which wasn’t bad on paper although slightly cliched, turned out to be bland by the end of it. The final act was almost laughable and that was such a shame to end things that way. So overall, the screenplay lacks the bite of a whodunnit and just doesn’t engage enough.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are bland and lack the required punch for any sort of an impact. The BGM is decent but it ought to have been haunting given its theme. The cinematography and colour design are excellent and two unsung heroes of the film. The editing is decent too. Director Pavan Kripalani misses the mark yet again. The director needed to elevate the script but that didn’t happen. The direction does shine in the horror set pieces but is extremely lacklustre elsewhere. He did to keep the camera rolling for that much more longer because before the peak of the drama was reached, the scene was cut short, something that I observed in multiple scenes.
The performances are decent here in what was a bit of a mixed bag. Shishir Sharma as Dr. Shekhawat is well restrained as always and does a good job. Ashmita Jaggi has her moments to shine. Akshay Oberoi as Rana Jai Singh is decent but not entirely in his elements. Rahul Dev as SP Ashok is wasted and that was such a shame. Chitrangda Singh as Rukmini is decent but her confused characterization doesn’t allow her to flourish completely. Sara Ali Khan as Meesha does show promise and does a good job here, showing glimpses of her talent. Vikrant Massey as Kapil is phenomenal and does a wonderful job. But he needs to be smarter with his script selection which has been a suspect for quite sometime now.
Gaslight is a half-baked whodunnit that fails to engage. Available on Hotstar.