Having steadily built her career on off-beat and short films, Radhika Apte has gone on to carve a niche of her own and as a viewer, I’ve loved every bit of it. Thus before watching her recent outing, Phobia, I naturally stepped into the theatre with rocket high expectations.
Without holding the word for too long, I have to say that the film didn’t disappoint. Just when you think you’ve cracked the curious case behind the protagonist’s behavior, the rising moment takes you by surprise and how!
Director Pavan Kripalani does an applause worthy job at binding anxiety, horror yet humor together in the same frame and manages to bring a fair share of chills and thrills without rubbing it in the face. (Fortunately you don’t see a rendition of Gumnaam hai koi or Aamhi Manjulika )
Radhika Apte as Mehak Deo, an angst agoraphobic (possessing extreme or irrational fear of open or public places) artist proves her mettle once again, communicating with her acting, so much so that the audience establishes a bond with Apte’s character.
Now all of this said and done, one thing that has stayed with me after the film is how refreshing is Phobia! Here’s why…
- Super-natural, literally : The film has its share of chilling moments because as I mentioned earlier, the events arise naturally out of real life situations in a passage of time, unlike Paranormal Activity or Bhool Bhulaiyaa, the protagonist doesn’t voluntarily drive him/herself towards these ‘unnatural events’ making us question the character’s sensibility.
- Imperfectly perfect: As the film reaches its finale, the unveiling end is imperfect and flawed even for many by the conventional means but the makers do not shy away from stepping in that zone, either.
- Cut.Pan.Zoom.Repeat: Keeping the thriller element in mind, the film makes an interesting usage of camera angles and editing, the one seen in short films usually. The technical experimentation is a wind of change on the big screen.
- Reel, Real Protagonist: Apte’s character is real because despite suffering from agoraphobia after a dark incident, she’s vulnerable yet aggressive; imaginative yet surprisingly logical in her imagination!
Although the film is a rollercoaster ride to eventually burst your curious bubble, the second half keeps it from being the stellar movie potential it possess. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that Radhika Apte starrer Phobia is refreshing in a time where the synonymous film plots make movies seem like a mundane twinning affair.