To emit: Shabana Azmi, Satyadeep Misra, Sanjeeda Sheikh, Riva Arora
director: Terrie Samundra
Classification: 2.5 stars (out of 5)
In director Terrie Samundra’s first film Kaali khuhi (The Black Well), the horrors of female infanticide committed in a fictional Punjab village – this neck of the woods remains nameless, suggesting that the terrible and widespread practice of eliminating girls at birth is not a geographically confined phenomenon. this country – cling to a home that has seen the worst. The important social cues in the film are strong and clear. However, the methods you use to get the message across don’t hold up as well.
The Netflix India original movie gives the solemn and urgent subject a largely generic and literal treatment, notably turning well-intentioned exercise into a fairly mild fare. Like a supernatural thriller Kaali khuhi it is similar to a well that dries up too quickly because it lacks depth and does not hold enough water.
Kaali khuhi it is undeniably strong in the atmosphere. It is clear that the director has a keen sense of visual composition and sound design, two strong points of the film. Such is the setting of the film that the patter of rain, the croaking of frogs, the chirping of crickets, and even the ringing of temple bells are not the benign sounds they usually are. Director of Photography Sejal Shah explores the environment in search of its darkness interrupted by rays of light from carefully placed sources. These produce suppressed shadows and halos around objects and accessories that accentuate a feeling of discomfort.
Unfortunately, Kaali khuhi, from the point of view of the narrative and its structure, it is not as consistent as the uniformity of the images and the soundscape of the film. It ranges from sheer horror to outright verbiage, from the carefully composed stills that transport the viewer into a dark world in a bucolic setting to the often superficial details (story and script: Samundra and David Walter Lech) that allow the security of an exhibition Uncomplicated ideas take precedence over the power of things that are not said or simply suggested. There is very little of the latter in Kaali khuhi.
At the end of the film, when a certain degree of clarity has descended and the audience begins to realize exactly what is happening, a character intones that the tradition is old and is “evil”, as if we do not already know it. . It is not very different when the same woman tells the protagonist, a ten-year-old city girl puzzled by what she sees and hears in the village and in her daadi’s home, that she represents a “new generation” and a “new”. thinking “. Kaali khuhi does not leave much to the imagination.
The opening moments of the film elicit a shudder or two and create an atmosphere of dread and apprehension. The story that Kaali khuhi The narrative is creepy okay, but it’s not the kind of horror movie that will chill you to the bone or play with your mind once it settles in the task of exposing us to the details of the village’s gruesome past.
Needless to say, the story revolves around a sleeping well and a gruesome secret hidden in its depths. In the opening sequence, a villager, armed with a pickaxe, accidentally opens the well. In the next scene: a girl even rides on another villager’s bike and reaches the metal door of a house. That’s where the prelude ends, paving the way for the introduction of the key characters.
A Shivangi schoolgirl (Riva Arora) accompanies her disputed parents, Priya (Sanjeeda Sheikh) and Darshan (Satyadeep Misra), on a trip to the village to see how their ill paternal grandmother (Leela Samson) is doing. Once they are there, inexplicable events begin to unfold. Shivangi feels the presence of a spirit that, to begin with, is visible only as a reflection in a mirror or as a fleeting shadow. A mixture of fear and curiosity takes over the girl. In all his innocence, he sets out to dig deeper.
The kaali khuhi and the wandering spirit hold secrets that neither Shivangi nor his mother have a way to unravel. But Darshan, his mother and Satya maasi (Shabana Azmi), who lives in the next house, is aware of things.
The town, shrouded in mist and mystery, is obviously a crucial presence in the story. The action takes place mainly in and around the well in the middle of a farm, the grandmother’s house, a closet in the bedroom and a room on the terrace. Hidden in these spaces are stories of a despicable custom steeped in blood and brutality. When the movie takes the lid off these tales, the reveal doesn’t make you feel shocked and disgusted because you can see them coming from a mile away.
Kaali khuhi suggests that women are as guilty as men of the perpetuation of female infanticide. The movie has only one major male character, Darshan, and he seems to possess no power in his entire life. All he can do is insist that he will never leave his mother’s house again, even when his wife and daughter are totally against the idea of staying in the cursed village.
Instead, the focus of the film is on three generations of women and other elderly women, one of whom appears in the film’s most sinister scenes doing what she wants. Shivangi daadi and Satya maasi They represent the past, Priya the present and the preteen the future. The question is, can Shivangi, the girl who escaped, summon the courage to reverse the malevolent repercussions of past events and usher in calmer days for the ignored village?
Shabana Azmi, as the woman who knows too much and has chronicled the fate of the village’s missing daughters in a carefully preserved scrapbook, leads the cast with an air of customary authority. The support he receives from Leela Samson, Sanjeeda Sheikh and Riva Arora, on whose slim shoulders Kaali Khushi rests, is commendably firm.
Kaali khuhi It has two other child actors, Hetvi Bhanushali (as the spirit) and Rose Rathod (as Chandni, the girl who lives with Satya Maasi and is wary of what happens next door). Both contribute their grain of sand. Satyadeep Misra is the stranger in the cast. Playing an irresponsible man who pays for the sins of his family and his village, he projects just the right degree of modesty.
On the observation capacity meter, Kaali khuhi almost reviewed. It could have been so much more.