Planet Bollywood
Raaz - The Mystery Continues
 
Producer: Mukesh Bhatt
Director: Mohit Suri
Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Kangana Renaut, Adhyayan Suman
Music: Raju Singh
Lyrics: Saeed Quadri
Genre: Thriller
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Approximate Running Time: 2 hrs. 20 mins.
Film Released on: 23 January 2009
Reviewed by: Aakash Gandhi  - Rating: 6.0 / 10
 
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Public Rating Average: 5.17 / 10 (rated by 400 viewers)
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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.


General stories deserve general descriptions. Rafique, who has written for the Bhatts on many occasions, has proven himself a worthy screenwriter (i.e. Dhoka). Yet, he does very little to break the pool of clichés his script has drowned in. With a highly predictable story, there is very little mystery for a film that carries the tagline of "The Mystery Continues." I was also very disappointed to see that the film was not a "Continuation" or a "Sequel" at all. In my book, filmmakers have the right to use the film's title a second time if (1) its story is a continuation [Koi Mil Gaya-Krrish] or (2) if the characters remain exactly the same but appear in different plots [Munnabhai]. The Bhatt's would have been wise to start afresh, which would have greatly reduced the expectations and allowed for more flexibility from a writer's vantage point.

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.


Being a "sequel," one can't help but draw comparisons. RAAZ – The Mystery Continues is a sour disappointment following the crafty, albeit inspired, Raaz. If you're looking for a quick scare mixed with some standard Bolly-style drama, then this one may barely serve its purpose. But if you're looking for a film that will make the hairs on the back of your neck crawl – then you'll be wise to save your money. For what its worth, at least it gives you the opportunity to check out the other release this week – Slumdog Millionaire.


Aakash Gandhi is Managing Editor and Senior Writer for PlanetBollywood.com. He also freelances for AVS TV Network at avstv.com.

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