by Taran AdarshI strong feel that if you do not have a colossal budget on hand, then you need to make up for that with an even better concept. Let's not forget, big ideas work big time. In fact, hi-concept films made in skeletal budgets is the new mantra in Bollywood. The next time budgetary constraints prevent you from working with an A-list star, don't sweat. Formulate hi-concept films instead!
Take an interesting concept. Make it within a stipulated budget, not exceeding Rs 2 cr/Rs 3 cr. Spend a good amount on its marketing. Create ample awareness. Chances are you might find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Ekta Kapoor has been doing this successfully. Recall LOVE SEX AUR DHOKHA. Now RAGINI MMS, which has been made at a shoestring budget of Rs 1 cr [or slightly more] in two versions - Hindi and Telugu.
Ekta's new offering is making noise for the right and wrong reasons... The stand-off between the real Ragini and Ekta, angry locals pulling down hoardings of this film, even blackening the faces of the lead pair on its posters, usage of a popular song from JEWEL THIEF, censors finding a few scenes very explicit, the threesome party hosted by Ekta a few days ago... RAGINI MMS is the most discussed film of recent times.
The horror genre hasn't been tapped to the fullest in India. Most horror films made in Bollywood are just not petrifying enough to make you break into a cold sweat. What works in favor of RAGINI MMS is the fact that first-time director Pavan Kirpalani chooses a scandalous, real-life story and garnishes it with sex and horror. It can't get more lethal than that. It works with those with an appetite for horror films and also with those who love titillation and skin show.
Like LOVE SEX AUR DHOKHA, RAGINI MMS has been shot as if in real time, in an unconventional way. The film is voyeuristic in nature. It's like watching the footage on a handycam and getting those thrills. But, of course, not all of RAGINI MMS is sex and scandal. There's a 'third person' watching the act as well, plus there's a story behind this haunted mansion. However, it's terrifying enough to make you jump on your seat. Let me call it a creepy, spine-chilling date movie!
The movie teases the viewers at different points as the sequence of events unravel. Scenes remain silent and still; not for long though, but long enough to make you fret. There are ample blood curdling moments and also sequences that spice up the proceedings. It's a voyeuristic experience for the viewer. It's like the guy in the movie bugging the place and showing you his personal encounters.
On the flipside, the film stagnates for a few minutes in the post-interval portions, but perks up again and maintains the pace till the very conclusion. Though the film is short in duration, with a running time of approx 100 minutes, you still feel that things could've been spruced up towards the middle of the second half. Also, the card at the end, which shares vital info on the characters and the conclusion, could've had a longer stay for it to register well. Yet, all said and done, these are minor blemishes that don't really take away much from the efforts of the rest of the film.
The quintessential couple, Ragini [Kainaz Motivala] and Uday [Raj Kumar Yadav], set out to have a dirty weekend at a friend's farmhouse on the outskirts of Mumbai. The weekend getaway quickly changes gears as they find themselves in a house that has been rigged with cameras in Bigg Boss style. The cameras that were meant to capture love-making are witness to something that is beyond the realm of human understanding... something metaphysical...
Within the confines of this house, Ragini and Uday are now at the mercy of an unexplainable paranormal force. With sundown approaching, what will the new entrants of the house do?
RAGINI MMS is one more film that signifies the altering face of Hindi cinema. A fry cry from the horror films churned out till a few years ago, this one borrows inspiration from the talked-about PARANORMAL ACTIVITY [the technique of shooting both films is same] and gives it the desi feel. Actually, a film like RAGINI MMS is not for those looking for conventional horror films, with women in white saris singing songs and disappearing in the night. This one has a very western approach, yet is very desi at heart.
Along with the horror genre, there is a certain emotional aspect in the story as well, which shows how the guy lures the girl under the pretext of love in order to take a video clip of her and sell it. The director as well as the DoP [Tribhuvan Babu] ensures that the hand-held camera footage as also the cinematography in general are in sync. There's no scope for songs in the film and portions of the songs, inserted at places, are well juxtaposed in the sequences. However, I'd like to make a special mention of the background score [Faizan-Agnel]. It's more than just throbbing music, digitized screams and high-pitched shrieks.
Both Raj Kumar Yadav [seen in LOVE SEX AUR DHOKHA] and Kainaz Motivala are truly wonderful. Shedding all inhibitions aside, the actors deliver striking performances. The steamy scenes between them look realistic and those explicitly intimate moments only add to the realistic mood of the film.
On the whole, RAGINI MMS amalgamates components of horror, paranormal and sex seamlessly. It titillates, it petrifies, but most importantly, it tells you a story which is daunting, imaginative and unconventional. The lethal combo of sex and horror should entice not just the average moviegoer, but also Gen X and the more evolved audience that values and embraces innovative themes and new genres of cinema.