12 February 2015 | khayaal_e_yaar
The last best horror film of the early 90s
'Raat' was released in the early 90s, precisely in 1992. The early 90s were the time when the substance of horror was nowhere to be found in the horror films. Unlike Ramsay films, 'Raat' wasn't a B- movie. Yes, it had low budget, yet the actors like Rohini Hattangadi, Revathi, Aakash Khurana, Anant Nag and Om Puri save it from being a B-movie. I watched it in 1992 when it was released in several cinema halls. Thanks we didn't have multiplexes then, else the collections would have been less. 'Raat' is all about a decent setup, tricky camera work and horror. Fortunately, this is far better than any other horror movie released in the late 80s and early 90s. People would say that Ram Gopal Varma got into horror soon after 'Bhoot - 2003,' but the truth is that his love for horror is well reflected in his early creation like 'Raat' that haunts me even after 22 straight years. 'Raat' is about belief vs disbelief and known vs the unknown. Let's have a look at the plot.
Mr. Sharma (Aakash Khurana) has just shifted to a new house located in a posh suburban area of Hyderabad. He lives along with his wife Shalini (Rohini Hattangadi), daughter Manisha aka Minnie (Revathy) who is in her late teens and grandson Bunty (Atit), who is the son of his deceased daughter and elder sister of Minnie. The house is elegant and the Sharmas are happy with it. Minnie is happier than everyone else because the house next to hers belongs to her fast friend Rashmi (Jaya Mathur). Minnie lives a carefree life and loves spending quality time with her college mates like Deepak (Sushant) and Rashmi. Minnie is having a silent affair with Deepak and both of them want to keep their profile low.
Ever since the Sharmas shifted to this new house, Minnie is having nightmares, where she finds herself being chased by some unknown entity that ultimately gets her. Scoffing at her own silliness, Minnie dejects the idea that something might be fishy. She even suffers from episodes of delusion where she finds herself all alone even when surrounded with her friends in actuality. Rashmi's grandmother, who had been living in the very next house is surprised how the Sharmas decided to move into this house because she thinks (or knows?) that the house had a bad past and is home to an evil spirit. Minnie's delusions take a bad turn one day, when she decides to go to a nearby picnic spot with Deepak on his birthday.
During their trip Deepak gets an idea that something is abnormal with Minnie as during a fit of delusion, the color of her eyes change and she behaves as if her senses are being ruled by some unknown entity. The episodes come and go in a jiffy but gradually intensify. Minnie even kills Rashmi in a fit of delusion and the investigating officer Tej Sapru is mysteriously trampled under a truck. Rashmi's death mystery remains unsolved. Shalini begins to smell a rat too but Mr. Sharma doesn't believe her. One night, Minnie attacks her father thus giving him a reason to believe that something strange is lurking in the vicinity. Mr. Sharma considers it to be a psychological problem and brings home a shrink (Anant Nag) but Shalini is advised by Rashmi's grandmother to seek the help of Sharji (Om Puri), a renowned exorcist. Sharji's findings reveal that an evil spirit (Sunanda) is living below the house and needs to be warded off to save Minnie's life. How Sharji, Deepak and Shalini work together to save Minnie's life forms rest of the story.
'Raat' reeks atmosphere and is intense at several places. Revathi is brilliant and truly convincing in her efforts. Deepak doesn't have much to do, but his role is still an important ingredient of this flick. Even after 22 years, I would like to thank Ram Gopal Varma for his ingenious and flawless direction. One shouldn't forget Bunty as well, because he literally owns some of the most memorable scenes, especially the ones related to his dear cat. Aakash Khurana's effortless acting is smooth and natural as always and Om Puri shines in his brief role of Sharji. I don't consider 'Raat' as a family entertainment, because it's not made from entertainment perspective but still remains a horror drama that is rude and truly chilling. As Sharji says, ' When we light a lamp, a certain area around it is lit. This illumination is just a deception, because the areas where light doesn't reach are still dark and hold so many secrets that can only be understood in the light of paranormal wisdom. We need to be prepared to fight this darkness, else it will consume us.' I guess this statement details everything about 'Raat' and the thought that might have provoked Ram Gopal Varma to produce and direct it.