Horror has been a ridiculed genre in Hindi cinema for decades. When it comes to horror, the Indian audience has been served a ludicrous cocktail of uninspiring stories, stereotypical jump-scares and irrelevant steamy scenes, film after film. Chhorii, a remake of the Marathi film Lapachhapi (2017), successfully beats these notions to deliver a story that chills and thrills, effectively.
Chhorii opens to a woman helplessly, and violently, losing her unborn child. We know a similar fate will haunt our lead character Sakshi, played by Nushrratt Bharuccha. Why? This is where director Vishal Furia’s brilliance lies. The director, who made the original Marathi film Lapachhapi, takes his time developing and then unraveling the deep-dark mysteries in Chhorii.
We meet eight months pregnant Sakshi and her husband Hemant, essayed by Saurabh Goyal, in a big city. Due to some circumstances, they decide to escape to a remote village for a few days. While this premise might raise questions about the couple’s judgment, we ask you to keep your patience.
Now, even though the wife has her doubts about the new shelter, which is isolated and surrounded by lush sugarcane fields designed like a labyrinth, her husband convinces her that it’s for their safety. In the village, the to-be-mother is cared for by Bhanno Devi, played by Mita Vashisht. She is the wife of the couple’s driver, Kajala, played by Rajesh Jais.
Slowly and subtly, Sakshi understands that the village is not just plagued by a regressive mindset in the name of traditions, but also has menacing evils. Sakshi still tries to ignore the red flags and remains optimistic. Eventually, she becomes suspicious and is troubled by Bhanno Devi’s constant and overbearing presence.
In Chhorii, the sugarcane fields have a life of their own. Their eerie stillness coupled with a haunting background score and impressive cinematography evokes genuine scares. Yes, familiar horror tropes have been used in the film, but they mostly add value to the narrative. At times, the pace suffers due to elongated scenes in the maze-like fields, but the film never gets boring.
Nushrratt Bharuccha gives a solid performance in Chhorii. Her emotions change as the story unfolds. She conveys the initial joy and the subsequent harrowing experience surrounding her pregnancy deftly. Some dialogues she utters about motherhood seem dramatic, but she never resorts to histrionics. Mita Vashisht gives a layered performance. The way she narrates fables in the film will definitely unsettle you. Saurabh Goyal and Rajesh Jais play their limited parts well.
Watch the trailer of Chhorii here:
You might predict what’s happening in Chhorii as the film progresses, but plenty of twists and turns make the story engaging. The screenplay gets credit here. You will wonder whether Sakshi can protect her baby, if what she is experiencing are visions or illusions, and ultimately, can she escape the forces that be.
The climax of Chhorii tries to pack in too much information and seems a bit hurried as it ties up the loose ends. This is a tad bit disappointing because the film itself feels longer than required. But surely, the powerful ending will compel you to think about society’s evils. What kind of evil? Let the film surprise, if not shock you, with that.
Chhorii released on Amazon Prime Video on November 25. We recommend you to watch this terrifying tale.
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