The first poster, that of just a ‘mangal sutra’ occupying the frame, set the tone. The promo further made you wonder what the ‘raaz’ was all about. The promotional campaign that followed gave more than just subtle hints of the ‘reboot’ that was in the offering. With the lady of the moment, Kriti Kharbanda, playing a young married woman who gets possessed, you know for sure that it would all boil down to either her ex-lover Emraan Hashmi or current husband Gaurav Arora set things right for her. The ‘mangal sutra’, well, does the rest.
Vikram Bhatt, in his endeavor to merge Indian sensibilities in a foreign setting with a tale of spirits and possessed souls, picks Romania as the location this time around. What he does well is staying true to the ambience and locale. This means he doesn’t shy away from using English as a spoken language for a decent part of the film. He also does the right thing by staying totally away from bringing on Hindi subtitles, something that usually ends up being a distraction. Yes, some may wonder if a quintessential ‘desi’ horror film could have done better with Hindi as the spoken language for its entire two hour (crisp) duration. However, I believe it was a step in the right direction.
What is also in the right direction is the back and forth narrative that Vikram adapts for the entire first half of Raaz Reboot. That in fact adds a good element of suspense, especially around the proceedings in the months of January and February 2016 when a lot transpired in between. The case of a missing car, lost ‘mangal sutra’ and a memory loss for a lead protagonist keeps you thinking right through the storytelling and even though Emraan Hashmi arrives on the scene 40 minutes into the film, you do not mind that as Kriti and Gaurav’s story has enough substance to keep you engaged.
Yes, there isn’t much of a suspense element in there as far as the ‘raaz’ factor is concerned. Actually, you can see that right in front of you. However, the mystery is around the motive and that is set brilliantly in the confrontation scene at the studio. Without revealing much of a plot here, it has to be mentioned that Emraan is in great form around this sequence and those who have loved him in his earlier films would be more than glad to lap it all up, be it the look, the persona, the hair style, the dialogue delivery or the overall body language.
In fact that also turns out to be the highlight of the climax where he just rocks the show. Being in very good form, he makes these scenes how own. That said, Gaurav too is good in most of his scenes and is much better than his debut release Love Games. He is specially noticeable in the highly charged dramatic encounters. As for Kriti, she is suitably placed in the entire film and comes up with a confident act. With the kind of looks which are a cross between Deepika Padukone and Kriti Sanon, she comes across as a trademark Vikram Bhatt heroine.
What Vikram could have possibly brought in more are some further twists in the tale. While the angle of a man helping his ex-girlfriend has been seen just a few months back in 1920 London, a few unexpected episodes on the lines of Hate Story 3 would have been an icing on the cake. In fact the horror element is pretty limited too and most of the scenes (especially the one around the possessed individual been tied on the bed) comes across as a repetition. That said, the arrival of Emraan Hashmi on the ‘horror scene’ is done really well, especially when he has a conversation with Gaurav around the dining table!
The film boasts of a classy look throughout and the Romania setting, though restricted to just a few locales (both outdoors and indoors), makes it only richer. The concept of bringing in a blind Indian psychic and also the Russian priest into the play is a good thought that makes the storytelling a tad different from what one usually sees in such plotlines. That said, a couple of songs could possibly have been reduced or edited further so as to make the film further snappy.
Though Raaz Reboot isn’t milestone affair in Bollywood horror scene, it can still be given a comfortable watch. The ‘raaz’ may be limited but the ‘reboot’ is good for the nostalgia.