Revisiting Raaz, Vikram Bhatt’s 2001 horror flick
Indian horror film specialist Vikram Bhatt’s film Raaz (2001) begins with Dino Morea (Aditya Dhanraj) and Bipasha Basu (Sanjana) trying to save their troubled marriage. In a bid to relive those moments (especially of their early marriage days), Sanjana asks him to take her to Ooty (from where they started their romantic affair). But they do not know what waits from them in Ooty. Aditya’s deadly past comes forth and begins threatening his peaceful conjugal life with Sanjana. Raaz, even after two decades of its release, remains a must-watch horror film for anyone in search of good Hindi horror movies. Ram Gopal Varma’s brilliant Raat (1992) opened new avenues for Bollywood filmmakers to rework on horror movies. Vikram Bhatt nailed it with Raaz.
Bhatt’s Raaz had all the elements to be a great horror movie. Now that the viewers have already been introduced to other experimental sub-genres in the horror genre, in 2001, the case was not the same. Raaz brought back the lost glory of Hindi horror movies. The husband (Aditya Dhanraj played by Dino Morea) cheats on his wife (Sanjana played by Bipasha Basu) by sleeping with a psychopath girl (Malini played by Malini Sharma). Sanjana’s business-tycoon husband wants to hush up the affair. But Malini resists, which in turn leads to her death (she commits suicide). Though Aditya (in Ooty) buries her body with his caretaker’s help, things go berserk when a year later Sanjana begins to feel the presence of Malini.
Thrills and chills in Bhatt’s Raaz were enough scary. In fact, he made us believe that horrifying things are not just to seen, but to be felt and realised. The ghost is not seen (expect in one scene for few seconds). Its presence is felt everywhere. The brilliant Ashutosh Rana plays Dr. Swaroop Agnihotri (an exorcist) in the film. It is only he who can save Sanjana and her husband from getting attacked by the all-powerful soul of Malini.
Malini Sharma (her debut film) performed very well. In fact, her role even in the human form casts a spell on the audience. She enters into Aditya’s life on a stormy and chilly night in Ooty. The then innocent Aditya allows him in. We have seen that in most horror movies, a character commits a blunder. He too does the same in allowing Malini in. The entry scenes and the scene following it were excellent (it was mysterious, spooky, smoky, chilling and haunting). There is a different feeling with Raaz.
The feeling rises from the very fact that such movies are rarely made in Bollywood these days. Raaz’s fear factor also lies with Ashutosh Rana’s character (Prof. Swaroop Agnihotri), a modern-day exorcist who is approached to help Sanjana and her family. Being an expert, Prof. Agnihotri visits Aditya-Sanjana’s Ooty house and senses danger. Instead of showing fear explicitly, Vikram Bhatt uses sound and background music to the hilt. Cold waves blowing, smoky atmosphere and incessant rain add much to the fear elements of Raaz. Raaz is nostalgia. Raaz is love.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.