Gaslight is literally dark and dull

Pavan Kirpalani’s fifth thriller Gaslight could have been much more thrilling. Photo: Disney+Hotstar 

Pavan Kirpalani has made it his business to make thrillers, including with an actual or perceived supernatural element. However, from the films he has directed, only the wonderful Phobia made a mark, though Ragini MMS made the popular grade. His last film was the fairly amusing Bhoot Police, which was released on OTT. Gaslight too has been released on Disney+Hotstar and produced by Ramesh S. Taurani and Akshai Puri.

But the film suffers from just pandering to the standard template of thriller-horror, just like his Darr@The Mall and his debut film, Ragini MMS. Moreover, the title Gaslight never really connects with its contents. More so, also because the film is not just dark by tenor but literally too—there are portions that can be barely be made out and that pulls down the movie, and that’s an add-on cinematographic downer!

Meesha (Sara Ali Khan) returns home on wheelchair—she has had an accident in childhood and has been a paraplegic since. She has been invited home by her long-alienated father, Ratan Singh Gaikwad a.k.a. Daata (Shataf Figar)—and thereby hangs a tale. Now welcomed by her stepmother, Rukmani (Chitrangada Singh), she is also introduced to distant cousin Rana (Akshay Oberoi), the region’s top cop, Ashok (Rahul Dev) and the family doctor, Dr. Shekhawat (Shishir Sharma). However, she is told that her father is not around, and is away visiting the salt pan site he owns because of a strike by the workers. His phone is also off.

Meesha now starts experiencing strange things and is convinced that Daata is either in trouble or dead. She ‘sees’ his body in a car, finds him walking in the palace and more. She is told that she is hallucinating, but the estate manager, Kapil (Vikrant Massey) is sympathetic and supports her seemingly quirky demands, like meeting a blind psychic (Manjiri Pupala), who predicts doom for her father. A murder follows, and finally, Meesha decides to take help from her dad’s devoted canine to solve the puzzle.

From here, a viewer who is familiar with thrillers can think of only a couple of options as the denouements, and it does turn out to be one of them, with a minor twist added. But the way this twist is revealed to a principal (negative) character is totally barmy, given the situation and the background on which it is devised. A very violent end follows, with a totally silly twist again.

The lead players are alright, though Rahul Dev has barely any role as a cop in this crime drama. The whole drama until the end plays out without this cop, who is rightly suspicious of the right people as culprits. The backfiring gun too is something implausible in the way it is shown.

The background score is routine, as are the script, dialogues, direction and editing. For a thriller addict (in print and on-screen) like me, this film is a dull dose of devilry indeed.

Rating: **

Disney+Hotstar presents Tips Films & 12th Street Entertainment’s Gaslight  Produced by: Ramesh S. Taurani & Akshai Puri Directed by: Pavan Kirpalani Written by: Pavan Kirpalani, Ameet Mehta & Neha Veena Sharma  Music: Gaurav Chatterjee Starring: Sara Ali Khan, Chitrangda Singh, Vikrant Massey, Rahul Dev, Shishir Sharma, Shataf Figar, Akshay Oberoi, Manjiri Pupala, Vinod Kumar Sharma & others






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