In the past decade, Netflix has grown from a nobody to one of Hollywood's greatest players. This strength is evident in the money that it now spends on films – over $ 500 million (about 3570 million rupees), which has been collected for the activities of Martin Scorsese, Michael Bay and Dwayne Johnson – and in which it is included competes with other studios at awards. It has the most nominations for the Golden Globes 2020 that take place this Sunday. But here in India, Netflix simply isn't able to get longtime Bollywood directors to make feature films for its platform. However, what it can offer them is an outflow of their creative juices, as there are initially no cash register problems.
We get that together with the anthology film Ghost Stories, the Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee, Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap – after the Bombay Talkies 2013 and the Lust Stories 2018 – while they try their hand at the horror genre. None of the four directors has done this before, although Kashyap has come closest to his work. The results are completely uneven, if to be expected in part. Johar, who has admitted being horrified at sea, creates the weakest entry in the game. Akhtar's story is unforgettable, although it was cleverly filmed by Tanay Satam (24: India). Kashyap is ready to get weird, but also seems to be holding back. Ultimately, it is Banerjee that shines among the many.
The fact that his short film stands next to material that is simply not on the same level helps him, but the different quality is not the only problem for Ghost Stories. In fact, the title itself feels wrong. It is a simplification and a facade. Only one of the four stories is about a ghost. It's almost as if the producers are too interested in connecting it with the previous one – lust stories also premiered on Netflix – and didn't know how to attract audiences unless they left with something catchy. A subset of horror fans will feel lied to when served, while another type of audience may not even hit the game if you just look at the title.
Akhtar opens Ghost Stories, in which the domestic nurse Sameera (Janhvi Kapoor) hires a colleague who takes care of a bedridden older woman (Surekha Sikri) who lives alone in a dingy apartment. Unless the old lady thinks that her son is still living with her, even though he cannot be seen. Sameera ignores it at first, but when she hears strange noises at night, she's of course ghostly. The production design creates the right atmosphere, and Satam holds the mindset to build excitement and immerse you in the film. Written by newcomers Ensia Mirza and Akhtar, it wants to fight the fear of being left, but it is too talkative with its ideas and there is little depth behind it.
This lack of depth is most clearly seen in Johar's section on ghost stories, written by the copywriter Avinash Sampath and following an extremely privileged Ira (Mrunal Thakur) who falls in love with an arranged marriage to Dhruv (Avinash Tiwary). Dhruv loves her too, but he is also very attached to his grandmother, with whom he speaks, even though she died two decades ago. Rich families and large houses are good for dark secrets and weirdness, but Johar's approach is too amateurish and tropical. The script lets you think for a second that it may raise expectations just to lose ideas. It is only satisfied to operate on the surface, be it (thin) signs, (repeated) dialogues or (ineffective) execution.
It shares one of these aspects – the repetition of information that the audience already has – with Kashyap's Ghost Stories story, which apparently doesn't trust its audience to keep up, which is disappointing for a filmmaker who usually deals with crossing borders connected is. It plays in Britain in the 90s with a highly desatured look bordering on monochrome, and focuses on a paranoid pregnant woman (Sobhita Dhulipala) who is babysitting the child of her late sister, Ansh (Zachary Braz). Written by the assistant director of Sacred Games, Isha Luthra, it resolves the drama with a series of nightmares and flashbacks, but its hard left-hander bends towards serenity while the character still feels inexperienced. One or two parts are missing.
Fortunately, that's not the case with Banerjee's Ghost Stories film – he also wrote it – which combines class commentary and mainstream horror elements in one package. He is also the only one who tries and succeeds with humor. The cameraman Ranjan Palit (Pataakha) is reminiscent of Western and borrows from Hitchcock. There follows a man (Sukant Goel) who arrives in a village and finds it empty, except for a little boy (Aditya Shetty) and a girl (Eva Ameet Pardeshi). He said everyone was eaten. The film is full of brilliant metaphors for today's socio-economic grievances, especially in a growing India where Banerjee never lets go of what he wants to say. His only problem is sometimes an inelegative representation.
As you can see, Banerjee is the only one of the four who tries to be political. His social horror story plays with the ugliness of caste, corruption and immorality and directly affects the erosion of small towns due to the increasing urbanization. (His Ghost Stories segment is one of two with a monster in it.) The other three like to work with personal horror stories that touch inner fears. While this is equally valid as an exercise, everyone is neglected in one way or another. Kashyap's ideas are too deeply embedded in the film, and although Akhtar leaves himself open to interpretation, it doesn't reward you for the thought. In the meantime, Johar & # 39; s has nothing to offer.
But the strangest thing is not the content, but the packaging. There is simply no reason why the four stories exist as an anthology film. In contrast to the two predecessors, Ghost Stories were not designed for the big screen on which the audience had to see them all at once. Instead, it was designed specifically for Netflix. Why not divide it into a four-part mini series if they exist independently and can be viewed as such? (Sure, there is a random motive for crows, but they are superficial in most entries.) There is no convincing argument that this is not the case. Though it wouldn't matter much if the inside wasn't that special.
Ghost Stories are streamed worldwide on Netflix.