Movie Review | Gaslight' fails to manipulate audiences
DECCAN CHRONICLE | Ajit Andhare
Gaslight is a beautiful word and a horrible act. Though the term was first used in 1938, the concept has existed for eons now. In every sphere and walk of life, you are gaslighted, unfortunately.
Once you christen your work as ‘Gaslight’, the suspense is given away right at the word go. You know, whatever you are watching is not true. In fact, it is exactly the opposite.
So, you know that when wheelchair-bound princess Meesha, (Sara Ali Khan) asks about her father Raja Sahab Ratan Singh’s whereabouts, she is being taken for a ride by her schmoozing sauteli maa Rukmini (Chitrangada Singh) and their dutiful estate manager Kapil (Vikrant Massey) as they keep telling her that he is away on a business trip.
Soon she finds out that her missing father in fact is dead and thus begins her endeavor to find his body and who killed him.
The movie ticks all the usual boxes of a mystery movie – it has a sunsaan haveli wherein not more than five people live. Meesha has been away from the deserted palace for more than 15 years and yet the entire mansion is wheelchair-friendly. Strange. Despite showing huge electric poles at the start of the movie, the haveli is perennially in the dark, especially when Meesha is roaming around looking for her dad in the night. It has scary paintings on the wall and a blind woman dressed in black predicting doom. Still, nothing works.
The movie uses eerie silences and jump scares alternatively to create a haunting effect but fails. It is a technically sound product but lacks the basic component to hold your attention – a strong and sound story. It is the weakest in this department.
The story is annoyingly cliched and an insult to a viewer’s intelligence. There is hardly a twist that one can not predict here. When you see a woman’s body lying underwater in the opening scene, you know it is going to be crucial to the plot linking it to the protagonist. So, no surprises there either.
There is no depth or newness to the mind games shown.
Performance-wise, Sara, Chitrangada, and Vikrant impress. Sara has done a decent job of portraying a young girl trying her best to navigate through the labyrinth of lies and deceit. Chitrangada as a stepmom trying to hide many secrets perhaps is the best character here. Multilayered. How we wish it was a bit more complex given the fact that Chitrangada has pulled it off so well. The ever-dependable Vikrant once again tells us why he is one of the most underrated actors currently. He has brought out the meanness of Kapil very well. It’s sad that writing doesn’t give enough material to these fine actors to work upon.
For instance, Meesha is wheelchair-bound. This particularly doesn’t make any difference to the story. She could have been shown normal also and still it would have been impact less.
Good cinematography, sharp background score, bearable performances, and no songs help ‘Gaslight’, but it is more of a why-dunnit rather than a whodunnit.
If you have 150 odd minutes to spare, this full-of-gas lightweight so-called thriller, directed by Pavan Kirpalani, is lit on Disney+Hotstar. Unfortunately, it is not lit enough.
Director: Pavan Kirpalani
Cast: Sara Ali Khan, Chitrangada Singh, Vikrant Massey
OTT: Disney+ Hotstar