Blending elements of creepy horror, psychological thriller, and black comedy, Ragini MMS director Pavan Kirpalani whips up a surprisingly potent cocktail in the form of Phobia. The film is smart and reasonably slick, and benefits considerably from a knockout performance by Radhika Apte, even if the script isn’t always on solid ground. 

Apte plays Mehak, a promising artist who’s developed a debilitating fear of stepping out of the house, after a terrible incident returning home in a taxi late one night. It’s the sort of condition that induces panic attacks, leaving one breathless, sweating profusely, and often unable to speak.

So how do her sister and friend decide to help? Well, they move her out of the home she shares with her sister and nephew, and into an empty flat. Because that’s what one needs when one’s sick, right? To be alone, and largely unsupervised!

Now completely by herself in the new house, not counting routine visits from her concerned friend and sometime lover Shaan (an excellent Satyadeep Misra), Mehak becomes obsessed with the disappearance of the former tenant of the flat, and finds herself seeing things that may or may not exist.

Phobia succeeds where other thrillers peter out, on account of the sheer unpredictability in the manner that it unfolds. Kirpalani masterfully plays on the viewer’s inability to decide whether Mahek can be trusted or whether she’s simply hallucinating most of the time. He draws on our sense on suspicion and paranoia again while asking us to consider other characters like Shaan, the creepy neighbor Manu (Ankur Vikal), and Nikki (Yashaswini Dayama), the spirited young girl next door who befriends Mehak. The film has its share of tense moments, and some well-timed jump-in-your-seat scares… but frankly it’s about more than that.

I’ll hold off giving away any more about the film except to say that it rests completely on the shoulders of its leading lady, and that Radhika Apte is in top form. Alternately fragile and fierce, she chews into the part, at once embracing Mehak’s contradictions and humanizing her complexities. It’s a nicely nuanced performance and Apte makes it look urgent and spontaneous.

I found myself chuckling at the end of the film, which is not usually the response one tends to have to a thriller. But Phobia is no standard thriller. I’m going with three-and-a-half out of five. Don’t miss it.


You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Rajeev Masand

  • Rajeev Masand’s Movie Review of The Girl on the Train

    The Girl on the Train, adapted from the runaway bestseller by Paula Hawkins, is a reasonably gripping suspense thriller that never...

    BMS EditorOctober 14, 2016
  • Rajeev Masand’s Movie Review of Inferno

    Inferno, directed by Ron Howard, the third film based on the Dan Brown novels, once again relies on the credibility of...

    BMS EditorOctober 14, 2016
  • Rajeev Masand’s Movie Review of Queen of Katwe

    Roughly 15 minutes into Mira Nair’s new film Queen of Katwe, and your defenses are down. Good luck trying to resist...

    BMS EditorOctober 8, 2016
  • Rajeev Masand’s Movie Review of Mirzya

    There’s a lot to admire in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Mirzya, but coherent narrative and compelling characters are not among its strengths. ...

    BMS EditorOctober 8, 2016
  • M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story

    MS Dhoni: The Untold Story is like a calendar of events from the life of India’s most successful cricket captain. This...

    BMS EditorSeptember 30, 2016
  • PINK

    You’d really have to be cold, cynical, and possibly living in denial if you aren’t deeply affected by Pink. This powerful...

    BMS EditorSeptember 16, 2016

    The prospect of spending 90 minutes with Blake Lively and a shark might not be everyone’s idea of a perfect movie...

    BMS EditorSeptember 16, 2016

    Anyone who’s having trouble finding a reliable cure for insomnia needs only to head to the nearest cinema and settle down...

    BMS EditorSeptember 9, 2016

    The idea of a Hindi film heroine as an ass-kicking action star feels refreshing yet somehow timely and appropriate. But Akira,...

    BMS EditorSeptember 2, 2016

All articles/blogs are intended to inform, entertain and amuse. We make no representations or guarantees about the truth, accuracy or quality of any content.

Copyright 2016 © Bigtree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. All Rights Reserved