Raaz 3 is not in the league of the 2002 Raaz, starring Bipasha Basu and Dino Morea. That film, also by director Vikram Bhatt, had a decent story because it was “inspired” by the Michelle Pfeiffer-Harrison Ford supernatural thriller What Lies Beneath. This one, Raaz 3, is more in the club of Uttaran, the TV serial.
Raaz 3 is Uttaranesqe in the sense that it’s the same story. There are two sisters, rather half-sisters (same father, different mothers). The elder one, Shanaya (Bipasha Basu), like Tapasya, holds a deep, severe grudge against the younger one, Sanjana (Esha Gupta), for taking away her toys, joys and daddyji. Sanjana, like Ichcha, is clueless and fancy-free. While on telly Tapasya tries to steal Ichcha’s boyfriend/husband with the help of her Nani, here Shanaya tries to destroy Sanjana with the help of Mr Shaitani Aatma (Manish Chaudhury). So instead of a weepy Ichcha, we get cuckoo Sanjana.
The film’s story, for what it’s worth, is narrated by Aditya (Emraan Hashmi) as a sort of confession — “I shouldn’t have done what I did.” Shanaya is a filmstar who was once on top of the awards game but has lately been losing out to newcomer Sanjana. The triangle is made complete by director Aditya. Shanaya and Aditya have been in a three-year-long relationship during which she has catapulted him to the big league and he in turn has made nice films with her in the lead. Aditya is deeply obliged to Shanaya and is her sex slave. But she is not into him; she is into herself.
Take a minute here to conjure up Shanaya, since she really is the film’s USP. Shanaya lives alone in a luxurious white and black glass mansion. She’s a beastly beauty, a devilish diva who skulks around in long flowing gowns muttering the Gayatri Mantra, seeking appointments with pundits before an awards night, for charms that will ensure that she wins the Best Actress Award. Now pause again and consider her gowns. They have enough cloth waist-down to cover the entire cast and crew of Uttaran, but tiny cloth coasters cover her privates on top. This alone will ensure decent opening for the film.
Anyway, on the awards night, Sanjana’s name gets called out and Shanaya goes ballistic. She throws her charmed thread and packs off all the gods from her ghar ka mandir. Just then an old employee arrives and suggests kaali vidya and offers to take her to Mr Shaitani Aatma. Mr S.A. is keen to help her, but the deal is that no gods should be around. She’s cool with that. So Mr S.A. takes a small jar of water and makes it deadly after muttering “shalang, balang, falang, garoom, baroom, faroom” or some such malevolent stuff.
Shanaya needs a helping hand, so Aditya is seriously smooched, royally seduced and just when his hormones are pirouetting inside his body, made to promise that he will slow-poison Sanjana. And so it begins, the cycle of Sanjana drinking the bewitched water, followed by reactions in and around Sanjana. She sees ghosts, is chased, throttled, screamed at and attacked by a clown, her own maid and cockroaches. There’s also a nangu-pangu situation here that you must get to on your own.
Watching naive, sweet Sanjana suffer, Aditya starts falling for her despite the fact that there really is no contest in the hotness battle between the two. This puts Shanaya off, so she ups the ante. She wants Sanjana dead. But this requires Shanaya to sleep with maggot-infested Mr Shaitani Aatma. She cringes but a girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do. Mr Shaitani Aatma, now happy and aroused, goes for the kill. But between him and Sanjana stands Aditya, with true love, the powers vested in him by a good panditji, and the good wishes of a doctor (Mohan Kapoor) who believes that schizophrenia is just jargon for the attack of pret aatmas. The climax involves Aditya going to pret land to fight off Mr Shaitani Aatma and returning to a hospital morgue where a limping Shanaya is trying to kill Sanjana.
Vikram Bhatt is fast emerging as the next Ramsay. He’s done horror TV shows — Haunted Nights, Anhoniyon Ka Andhera — and several horror films (Haunted, Shaapit, 1920, Raaz). That’s a good thing. Most of us love getting scared; we pay good money to get the heebie-jeebies. But Mr Bhatt really must invest in slightly better stories and actors. Instead he’s focused on posh interiors, shapely women, a couple of dramatic camera shots and one bloody hand that goes for the jugular. That’s the sum total of Raaz 3.
Though Emraan Hashmi does get to lock lips and make out, he is so restrained and sober that he looks bored and boring in cardigans and check shirts. Bipasha Basu has, after several attempts, evolved an Evil Woman template, which involve making big eyes, a stern jaw, flashing her thighs and riding guys after using the F-word. She meanders there, and the director knows her limitations. So when she has to do something that’s different, the director focuses on her toned figure, with minimal clothes, and they both get by.
With Esha Gupta, director Vikram Bhatt doesn’t even bother to do that. For example, in a dramatic scene when Aditya is confessing to Sanjana about how he has been feeding her to the ghosts, we are focused on how Sanjana will react. But he mutes the scene, brings on loud dhol-drum background music while Ms Gupta just tried to look sad.
Bipasha has a sexy body and steamy disposition and she uses every dress, every scene, every song to flaunt her fab abs, her toned long limbs and her perky boobs. She dwells there, and the director knows that. Esha has a neat figure and is easy on the eyes, but is low energy and the best she can do to look risqué is crinkle her eyes and pout.
Raaz 3 is in 3D and though that doesn’t excite me one bit, one must appreciate that bricks and cockroaches don’t just go helter-skelter, but fly straight into your face.