Story: Eight months pregnant Sakshi and Hemant are a happily married couple. When Hemant is unable to pay money to lenders for the business he wanted to establish, he is threatened with dire consequences. This forces the couple to move to a secluded place so that they are safe and have time to arrange the money that is to be returned. But the house they check-in at the village of his car driver is sinister and has a history filled with gore and ghosts.
Review: As it comes to an end, Chhorii chokes you and leaves a lump in your throat. The film makes a very strong case about the inhuman practice of female infanticide and foeticide without preaching and that surely is a clincher. The past few months have seen a spate of horror films on OTT platforms and while the devices to scare audiences are common, this film stands out for scaring the viewer while telling an engaging and relevant story. Director Vishal Furia has picked a contemporary burning issue and has woven his narrative around it. In this case, he gives a flavour of horror with winning performances. This makes Chhorii an engrossing watch, also making you think about social evils that sustain over time.
Delving deep into details of this desolate horror story would mean giving out spoilers. Essentially, there is a pregnant woman, a desolate house, children, and an isolated habitat with very few people for company. With lesser characters but lots of emptiness filled with thrills and surprises, Chhorii keeps you hooked. The mise-en-scène employed by Furia adds to chills, though not much, beyond its central premise.
Because of an earthy and rural setting, the entire film looks very real. A lot of horror chills in cinema happen only because of the intricate camera movements and Chhorii aces it. The camera itself becomes one of the characters. Anshul Chobey’s camera movement is intricate and helps in building tension by placing it like a character in the story, one that peers into minds and delivers timely jump scares. A few scenes in the film will make you both angry and sad. For instance, look out for the scene which features numerous dead babies in a dried well or when the three dead children say to Suneni that they will take care her new-born.
It’s heartwarming to see actors like Mita Vashist being cast in significant roles by new-age directors. Despite being a part of the industry since 89 and having worked in films like Drohkaal, Drishti and Kasbaa she never got her due. Thankfully Chhorii again brings her back into the limelight. Mita has delivered a knockout performance as Bhanno Devi. Be it the accent or the mannerism she has nailed the part. She looks evil whenever she needs to and caring when the scene demands.
At the center of this film, is an engaging and convincing Nushrratt Bharuccha as the pregnant wife Sakshi, seeking to avoid trouble and protect her un-born child, by hiding out in this near-deserted village home. For an actor who has begun her cinematic work with Pyar Ka Punchnama, her penchant for challenging roles and ability to perform and adapt to different worlds is commendable. Chhorii allows Nushrratt to portray a difficult role and she has done it with sincerity. Saurabh Goyal as Hemant looks natural but the screenplay does not do justice to his character. Rajesh Jais as Kajla, the driver, has less screen time compared to Mita but is effective nonetheless. Vishal Furia has remade his Marathi film Lapachhapi into Chhorii and retains the scare element of the original film.
The film is not without faults. The character of Hemant is ill-sketched and inconsistent. Halfway through the film, you can make out who exactly he is. There is a scene when he is attacked and then disappears completely and is back only in the climax. More screen time should have been given to the character of Rajesh Jais as he too is a partner in crime.
The film focuses on female infanticide without preaching about the evils that it spells for a society. While the name of the state is not mentioned, it is clear that the film is set in Haryana, a state with one of the worst records of this inhuman practice. Chhorii is a film that is both thrilling and scary in equal measure. It comes as a whiff of fresh air as far as the horror genre is concerned. Get scared this weekend, you will feel better.