Ghost Stories Review: Janhvi Kapoor and Sobhita Dhulipala outshine not just the ensemble cast but also the story in this lack-luster horror fest

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Film: Ghost Stories

Cast: Janhvi Kapoor, Mrunal Thakur, Sobhita Dhulipala, Gulshan Devaiah, Surekha Sikri, Vijay Varma, Sukant Goel, Kusha Kapila, Avinash Tiwary

Directors: Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee

Bollywood filmmakers Karan Johar, Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee and Anurag Kashyap reunite after the success of Lust Stories on Netflix once again with a horror anthology titled Ghost Stories.

It begins with Zoya’s story where Janhvi Kapoor plays the role of a nurse who is given the responsibility of an old, bed-ridden woman in an isolated and creaky building. Sameera aka Janhvi, unhappy with her work, manages to hang on with Surekha, a senile old woman who desires to meet her son who isn’t visible to human vision. Technically, Janhvi does a commendable job. Be it fear or her emotional breakdown when her beau fails to give her the respect and love she deserves; the actress is top-notch. Her subtle South Indian accent, although not consistent, is noteworthy. Right from the first frame wherein Surekha makes an appearance, we know what are we in for. Zoya is simply brilliant in her direction. With the backdrop of rains and an isolated mansion where the silences haunt more than the presence of any third force, the filmmaker accounts for chills, but still in scarcity.

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The next story stars Sobhita Dhulipala in the lead. The narrative, unlike Zoya’s, is more bent towards anxiety and thrill rather than the presence of a supernatural force. This Anurag Kashyap tale revolves around Neha who is a pregnant woman and can talk to crows. Her pregnancy causes an impact on her nephew who loves her beyond anyone and develops feelings of jealousy towards the unborn. The baby that is inside Sobhita’s womb holds a separate mystery. In a tale of motherhood, loneliness and loss, Sobhita’s Neha has several secrets hidden within. It goes without saying Sobhita is one of the best actresses Bollywood has. As Neha, she excels in every scene that leads to induce goosebumps. The black and white template adds mysterious vibes and is effective with Sobhita’s acting. The noire-like treatment by Anurag is refreshing and stands out from the rest. Although this story isn’t without flaws. In a nutshell, it lacks conviction and clarity towards the end. The music department here gets a big thumbs up.

Dibakar presents his version with Sukant Goel, Aditya Shetty and Eva Ameert. In a more folklore style and the scale tipping towards monsters and man-eaters, Sukant enters into an isolated village and bumps into two children (a boy and a girl) who are at loggerheads owing to socio-political causes. Sukant, in an attempt to save the trio from the custody of the girl’s father who is nothing but a cannibal, lands into grave trouble. This tale of a man-eater is excessively long and feels tiring with the overall execution. Gulshan Devaiah, in a brief role that all get in this monster story, contributes maximum with his expressions. Sukant and the children are decent but a little too caricaturish to spook you. Having too many loopholes hidden between a gory tale, Dibakar seems confused with his storytelling and adds unnecessary socio-political tiffs in between that do nothing but increase the screen time.

The last tale comes from the treasures of Karan. The fourth story orbits around the arranged marriage of Ira aka Mrunal Thakur and Dhruv, played by Avinash Tiwary. After tying the knot with a person she has known for merely a few months, Mrunal receives the shock of her life when her husband talks to his dead granny every night. In a quest to find out the secret behind his granny’s presence, Mrunal digs her own grave. Karan, who has been in the industry for ages now, does a fine job at presenting colours onscreen that hold a dark secret underneath. However, horror doesn’t seem to be the comfort zone for the prolific filmmaker, who gives enough good romantic scenes but lacks slightly on the jump scares part. Mrunal and Avinash look great together but chemistry wise, they seem to be a little uncomfortable.

In totality, Ghost Stories lacks chills and scares. It serves as an unnecessary film that comes to no conclusion. With a cliff-hanger ending to all tales, it leaves us dissatisfied. Sobhita and Janhvi are the only saving grace of Ghost Stories. The music too does no good. In a more cartoonish start, the tone, right from the prelude doesn’t string together scares and fear. The graph, in this 2-hour 24-minute film, doesn’t escalate and maintains a monotonous speed which becomes tiring. Lack of adrenaline rush makes this film a dull watch.

PeepingMoon gives 'Ghost Stories' 3 Moons

(Source: PeepingMoon)

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