By Khalid Mohamed
Originally posted on Spotboye.com
Drainpipes sound like bagpipes. A bathtub goes rub-a-dub-dub. And a refrigerator can be more lethal than the Terminator in this psychodrama.
Sorry, but I should have rested it out at home, instead, in a pajama. However impactful or out-of-the-box Pavan Kirpalani’s Phobia may appear to be, it is so derivative of Roman Polanski’s black-and-white classic Repulsion (1965), that scenes from the original kept falling like raindrops on my head. Dread.
Indeed bhaiyon aur beheno, just check out the trailer of Repulsion on YouTube (posted below). The similarities you detect will not be entirely coincidental. In fact, if the trailer of Polanski’s black-and-white classic chiller employed a voice-over, so does Phobia’s, only timidly so.
To go off the track a bit, I noticed quite a few shades of déjà vu lately in the promos of the upcoming Te3n, featuring Amitabh Bachchan-Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and the South Korean revenge flick Montage. I bring this up, only to wonder if there are any issues of copyright or wrong today. Go configure.
Aah, so back to Phobia, or rather Repulsion in which the blindingly beautiful Catherine Deneuve portrayed a London manicurist suffering from anxiety disorders. Ergo, she wants to stick within the four walls of her home.
So what if the self-confinement spooks her out so totally that she hallucinates, hears unearthly sounds, and is helped only to a teeny weeny degree by a wanna-woo boyfriend. Vis-a-vis her sexually adventurous sister (that element has been dropped by Mr Kirpalani, heh heh) and a creepy-crawly landlord (substituted by an ugh neighbour), the less shuddered the better.
Indeed, from the looks of the Malad-located adaptation, the Phobia script must have been a breeze. Story-wory toh hai, now let’s just update the stuff with techno-pizzazz. And cast the reliably competent Radhika Apte to slip into the shoes-n-slippers of Catherine Deneuve. And voila, Kirpalani and team are ready to go.
Outcome: After being traumatised by a leery taxi driver, our Miss Mahek is struck by agoraphobia. That quasi boyfriend (Satyadeep Mishra, efficient) coaxes her into shifting to other digs at Malad. No go.
Our dear Mahek’s condition deteriorates, she rocks-‘n’-reels through hallucinations, reads the diary of the apartment’s previous occupant Jiah – is this a mean-hearted allusion to Jiah Khan? In addition, there’s an aggravation-adding neighbour (Ankur Vikas), not to omit a perky gal-next-door (Yashaswini Dayama, impressive) who provides some jabberwocky relief. Quite a caboodle of kooky characters out there, really.
Outbursts of the background music score make sure you jump out of your skin. And the editing cuts which are sharper than a Rampuri knife, strive to keep your interest rooted. Admittedly, Mahek’s blizzard of perils does entice a shiver or two up your spine. Fine.
Apart from a manipulative quiver, tremble and scream-out-not-so-aloud – plus Radhika Apte’s power-packed performance –- there’s precious little by way of content in Kirpalaniji’s follow-up to his Ragini MMS 2, which in any case is recallable mainly for the Sunny Leone hip-twister Baby Doll.
Above all, the very concept of a Repulsion Mumbai-ishtyle, over 50 years later, affirms that when it comes to shriek fests, Bollywood is still bankrupt of ideas. Give me back the good ‘ol Ramsays any day, any show. Now those Bros were the genuine ghostbusters, weren’t they?
After you watch Phobia, do watch Repulsion. Here is the full film.
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