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No Scares Here

Saturday, November 03, 2018
By Deepa Gahlot

Lupt
Director:
Prabhuraj
Cast: Jaaved Jaffrey, Niki Walia, Vijay Raaz and others
Rating: * 1/2

A family driving down a dark winding road, obviously lost, comes across a man standing by his stalled car, and ask him where the road goes. “Roads don't go anywhere,” he replies, and rightly so, and gets one of the few laughs of 'Lupt'.

A while later their car stalls. the man, about to be identified as Dev (Vijay Raaz) turns up and offers them shelter in his “outhouse” which is a log cabin in the middle of nowhere. They don't find it strange that their car stopped right near the “outhouse” or that they have just had a creepy encounter with a stroller on the desolate road, with a Chucky (of horror franchise 'Child’s Play') kind of spooky doll in it.

There is a backstory to how this clueless Tandon family landed at this point. Harsh Tandon (Jaaved Jaffrey) is an overambitious businessman, who wants to be at the very top; so he snaps at everyone in the office, and at his unhappy-looking wife Shalini (Niki Walia) at home. But when he starts hallucinating, a friendly shrink tells him insomnia is causing his mind to see things, and suggests a vacation.

Harsh reluctantly piles Shalini, son Sam (Rishabh Chaddha), daughter Tanu (Meenakshi Dixit) and her boyfriend Rahul (Karan Aanand) into a car and sets out for Nainital. A traffic jam makes him turn onto a road that takes them through a dark forest (fancy car has no GPS device?). Of course, there will be odd occurrences, of course the car will stall and there will a “sab marenge” warning on the car radio. This is how things go in horror movies, so the audience knows just what will happen next and why.

There is a creaky swing, flickering lights and pallid ghosts, who are not in the least frightening. In spite of the general air of menace, characters keep wandering off into the jungle, because, well, they have to be killed as the radio said.

For some reason, Jaffrey copies Amitabh Bachchan; Vijay Raaz looks suitably blank since he doesn't really have much to do; the other actors just carry on gamely. The director, Prabhuraj, apparently worked with Ram Gopal Varma and probably acquired a taste for horror movies (RGV made films like 'Raat' and 'Bhoot'), but not the skill for scaring. In any case, after 'Tumbbad', this film looks like kid stuff.

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