In the early 1960s, films like 'Woh Kaun Thi' and 'Bees Saal Baad' seemed to suggest at the time that Horror was a very promising genre for Indian Cinema. However, it was the ever-popular Escapist Romance category of storytelling that dominated the Industry for the next four decades.
Vikram Bhatt's 2002 blockbuster, Raaz, reinvigorated the genre and paved the way for many other filmmakers to put their spin on the rediscovered art of scary storytelling, most notably Ram Gopal Varma. Nevertheless, seven years later, and the Bhatt camp finally releases the "sequel," RAAZ – THE MYSTERY CONTINUES. Making a sequel is never easy from an expectations standpoint, as usually the predecessor was successful enough for it to warrant a follow-up.
Albeit boasting of the same name, this RAAZ showcases a brand new cast of Emraan Hashmi, Kangna Ranaut, and Adhyayan Suman, with director Mohit Suri at the helm this time around.
Shafgufta Rafique's story and screenplay lingers within the conventional boundaries of most horror films: Woman is being tormented and intermittently possessed by a mysterious super-natural entity. Because she has an unsupportive and non-believing partner, she is forced to cope and deal with the haunting on her own. Strange man decides to help woman rid herself of the unwanted presence. Both embark on journey to determine the connection between woman and entity.
Vikram Bhatt is sincerely missed. Although young director Mohit Suri has an impressive track record with Vishesh Films [Zeher, Kalyug, Woh Lamhe, Awarapan], Horror is clearly a genre that escapes Mohit's comfort zone. The execution lacks the edge-of-your-seat drive you look for in a thriller. Suri relies heavily on traditional scare tactics that appear wooden and ineffective. On the other hand, Vikram Bhatt is a director who was clearly in his zone while making Raaz. He's gone on to experiment with horror in films like Fear and most recently 1920. There's no doubt that he could have added much more to this mediocre product.
I know there is a certain loyalty between Mukesh Bhatt and Kangna Ranaut. But whatever happened to the art of casting? I must admit, in the opening scenes she did not come off as loud and annoying as I had expected. But all of that was offset by her hackneyed portrayal of a possessed soul. I just never felt her pain and anger.
Perhaps the most loyal actor-producer relationship we've seen in recent times has been that of Emraan Hashmi and Mukesh Bhatt. Fortunately, this one pays off. Emraan, a man who was once dubbed "The Serial Kisser," has truly come of age. His mature performance conveys a level of authenticity that was not visible in his early days. Unlike his co-star, he pours intensity into his character without going over the top.