Chhorii Cast: Nushrratt Bharuccha, Saurabh Goyal, Mita Vashisht, Rajesh Jais
Chhorii Director: Vishal Furia
What makes a good horror film? A spine-chilling, ominous background score is crucial, and so is perfect lighting – dim, but not so dark that it makes you squint your eyes while looking for easter eggs, or set your screen display at maximum brightness. Scary visuals mixed with a hint of absurdity – definitely! Too many jump scares spoil the broth, but a few sprinkled at unexpected places can be good for the mood of a horror-film enthusiast. However, these elements are but the seasonings that help make the dish better. The primary ingredient of a good horror film, in my honest opinion, is its story – a plot that stays in the minds of viewers like a dizzying after-effect of a roller-coaster ride.
Does Nushrratt Bharuccha’s horror film Chhorii get it right? No. But, it certainly is an attempt in the right direction. Director Vishal Furia takes the liberty to define the genre of ‘horror’ in his own way, and the feat is worth appreciating. I say so because Chhorii hardly feeds on viewers’ fears of the supernatural, but instead, chooses to bring to light the many real horrors in our society, which just does not seem to end.
Sakshi (Nushrratt) is eight months pregnant when she and her husband Hemant (Saurabh) decide to literally escape their lives in the city and seek refuge in a remote village amid a maze of sugarcane fields. As they run away from goons who have been threatening Hemant to clear his debt, they find shelter in their driver Kajala Ji (Rajesh Jais) and his wife Bhanno’s Devi’s (Mita Vashisht) isolated house in the village. Sakshi starts seeing three little kids who keep on luring her into the fields, and a woman called ‘Sunaini’ whose lullaby, to put it kindly, is not too pleasant to listen to. The trailer hints that Sakshi’s unborn child is in danger. But is it only from the otherworldly forces that she needs to save her child from? Or are there others with equally (if not more) evil intentions in the perceived world as well?
The film drags on at a slow pace, so much so, that there comes a point where you are praying for the horror show to finally begin. Writers Vishal Furia and Vishal Kapoor spend almost half of the screenplay setting the prelude to the main story. But once it begins, it catches up to speed and has your attention.
The social messaging is anything but subtle. It’s spelled out for you from the second scene in the film: 1. Sexism starts young. 2. Seemingly ‘nice’ men have misogynist opinions. 3. Women are not only victims but also agents of patriarchy. 4. Unchecked microaggressions lead to real crimes. And our protagonist Sakshi is clearly against this, as she keeps on questioning them, but never really revolts, until the climax of the film.
Nushrratt’s dialogues on crimes against women, toxic traditions, and age-old thoughts land well, only to come to an unexpected and crashing halt as she says, “Aurat hi aurat ki sabse badi dushmann hoti hai (Women are each other’s biggest enemies)”. Suddenly, you can’t decide if you should roll your eyes at the audacity of propagating such a thought in 2021, or if you should have a facepalm moment for the director’s decision to end a potentially good scene on a weak note.
The cast does its job well and leads the film with shared responsibility on screen, especially Nushrratt and Mita Vashisht. Nushrratt’s performance shows evident improvement from her Pyaar Ka Punchnama days and makes you root for her potential.
Based on the 2017 Marathi film Lapachhapi, Chhorii is an intelligent choice for a remake, for the subject – female infanticide and feticide, unfortunately, has not become a haunting memory of the past yet.