Planet Bollywood
Vaastu Shastra
Producer: : K Sera Sera/ Ram Gopal Varma
Director: Shourabh Usha Narang
Starring: Sushmita Sen, Ashsaas Channa (intr.), Chakravarthy, Peeya Rai Chaudhary, Rajpal Yadav, Sayaji Shinde, Rasika Joshi and Purab Kohli
Music: No Songs
Genre: Horror
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Approximate Running Time: 108 mins
Film Released on: 22 October 2004
Reviewed by: Narbir Gosal  - Rating: 4.0 / 10
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Public Rating Average: 5.11 / 10 (rated by 412 viewers)
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What were the makers of Vaastu Shastra thinking when they compared their film to Bhoot? Obviously expectations were going to be sky high, so you would think they would┬┤ve come up with a movie offering good scares, but Vaastu Shastra ends up being a campy, unoriginal waste of time. I┬┤m surprised that someone like Ram Gopal Varma is backing this film. You would think he would help his prot├ęg├ę and first time director Shourabh Usha Narang craft a film worthy of being compared to Bhoot.

Vaastu Shastra is a film that starts off with a good concept, but somewhere along the line falls flat on it┬┤s face, much like Varma┬┤s earlier production Gayab.

The film starts with the lead couple, Virag (Chakravarthy...wooden as ever) and Jhilmil (the always dependable Sushmita Sen), moving into their new house Shanti Kutir. Along for the move is their son Rohan (Ahsaas Channa, more on him later) and Jhilmil┬┤s sister Radhika (Peeya Rai Chaudhary). As they get settled into their new home, strange things begin to occur. A madman (Rajpal Yadav) begins stalking Jhilmil on her drive to work, Rohan seems to be involved in an intense relationship with his new ┬┤imaginary friends┬┤ and both Radhika and Jhilmil have spooky encounters with voices and visions just outside the gates of their new house. At first everyone dismisses the occurrences as nothing, but after a sequence of events which leads to three deaths, it becomes clear that something sinister is going on.

Vaastu Shastra has one of those stories which sounds great on paper, but on screen it falls apart. Shourabh Usha Narang┬┤s direction shows sparks of creativity, he has the technical aspects down pact, which isn┬┤t a surprise considering that Ram Gopal Varma is his mentor. The camera movements and lighting add to the dreadful feeling and the few sequences which do scare you (in the first half) are well executed. For example; Sushmita┬┤s encounter with a zombie outside her window, Peeya┬┤s ghostly encounter outside the gates of the house, and the first time we see Rohan actually interact with the ghost in his room (on his bed) all send chills down the spine. However the film is nowhere near as polished as Bhoot.

The problem is the script (Charu Dutt Acharya) which is too uneven and full of loopholes. The ghosts/zombies appear too often in the first half, but do nothing, aside from providing a few minor scares. You eventually get desensitized to their presence. In the second half for an unexplained reason they begin killing everyone in sight, too much is going on in too short of a time. The climax is weak to the point of being unintentionally funny. Actually the last 15 to 20 minutes ruin the whole film. Acharya has also written in scenes from major horror films of Hollywood into this film, it┬┤s not a copy of any film, but each scene will remind you of a different horror movie and that itself is bad. Cinematography is functional although sometimes the lighting is too dark, editing is sharp, thankfully the film has no songs which keeps the film short and on track. The background score is a strong point, it┬┤s eerie and unsettling, but it is marred by the sound effects, which grate on the nerves. Generally the horror movies biggest strength lies in silence, however Vaastu Shastra is often too loud for no reason. The sound effects are noisy and annoying. The tiger growl and child like laugh are over used in the first five minutes itself. This works against the film and actually makes it more obnoxious than scary. This film doesn┬┤t touch Bhoot on a technical level which is quite sad considering a horror film needs good technical values to set the atmosphere.

Performances are decent. Cute newcomer Ahsaas Channa steals the show as Rohan, this kid has confidence. Usually child actors can be irritating because they either over act or don┬┤t act at all, but Channa is a natural. His expressions in some of the scenes are creepy, it┬┤s surprising a child of his age can grasp the scary situations in this film with such ease. Sushmita Sen also does a good job as Jhilmil, she┬┤s proved time and again that she has the acting chops. Still as the lead character in this film she is a complete natural and charismatic on screen. She convey┬┤s her characters plight with conviction.

Chakravarthy and Peeya Rai Chaudhary leave no impact what so ever. Their performances are flat and unappealing. Rasika Joshi as the maid is good in a small role, she leaves her mark. Rajpal Yadav is over the top and annoying, Sayaji Shinde and

Purab Kohli don┬┤t get any scope at all.

Vaastu Shastra is one of the biggest disappointments from Ram Gopal Varma┬┤s production house. Cheesy, Tacky and boring are just some of the words you can use ot describe this film. This film belongs to the Ramsay type of horror film which is over the top and senseless. The only plus points of the film are both Sushmita Sen and Ahsaas Channa┬┤s performances as well as the absence of songs and short time length. Shourabh Usha Narang

needs to come up with a better story for his next film along with a better marketing campaign. The film promised; "If Bhoot scared you, this will kill you", and they are┬┤ll be bored to death!

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