Pari Review (No Spoilers): A Fairy Tale After All

Third movie in theaters in one weekend!  Woo-hoo!  Partly possible because I didn’t have to teach Sunday School for once, and because I was able to get to the early show on Friday so I didn’t spend my Saturday exhausted.  So don’t get used to this, might be the only weekend for a while that I can make it happen.  But it was nice to manage it once.

The tagline for this film was “not a fairytale”.  But turns out, it is!  Or at least, it is more a fairy tale than it is a horror movie.  There are jump scares and special effects, but there are also mysterious forests and old witches and a “prince” who rescues a “princess” and all the other parts of a fairy tale.  Most of all, it is a story with a lesson to it.  The kind of story you might tell a child to help them understand the world.

That’s all fairy tales are, stories we tell each other to help understand the world and learn how best to be in it.  Don’t trust strangers because they could be witches, wait for your true love to arrive, be smart when confronted with danger, learn from other’s mistakes, and so on and so on.  This is a story with a lesson as well.  It’s not about random attacks and bloody slasher moments, there is more to it than that.

Image result for pari poster

It’s hard to talk about this movie without spoiling it because so much is unexpected.  Which is the point, it plays with our expectations and teaches us to look past them, to consider each situation as it arises, each person as we know them through their actions.  The trailers promised a different sort of horror movie, and the film delivers, but it delivers nothing else as expected.

Anushka is a big part of why the film is unexpected.  Her performance begins simple, the usual flat affect that makes it impossible to see what is happening behind.  But then, slowly, the layers unfold and we get to see the person inside, the amazingly pure emotions on her face draw us in.

Equal to Anushka are the 3 other leads, Parambata Chatterjee, Rajat Kapoor, and Ritabhari Chakraborty.  The only one I recognized was Rajat Kapoor, bringing some lovely gravitas and experience to his role.  But the other two, you may notice, are from the Bengali industry.  Parambata I had seen before in Kahaani, but the rest of his career was in Bengali cinema.  Ritabhari Chakraborty is from Bengali film, and TV.  Which got me thinking about Anushka as a producer along with being an actress.

Like all her films, this one has her as the sole big name.  Not in a way that feels like a vanity project, but like pure common sense.  One big name is required to open well, so Anushka is cashing in her fame from putting in the time as the Khan’s love interest in the big films to get us to see this small film.  But a pattern I find interesting between this one and the last one is that they are also extremely regional.  Phillauri had Diljit Dosanjh, a strong Punjab setting complete with beautiful folk songs, historical ties, all sorts of other things.  And this film has well-known Bengali actors and a story that is firmly placed within the Bengal setting.

It’s a clever business plan.  She can get extremely experienced and talented people from the regional industries, people who are willing to play smaller roles in an ensemble for little money.  And she can also target a segment of the audience instead of worrying about bringing in all of them.  Phillauri did well in the areas where Punjabi films generally do well.  Bengali films don’t have as big an overseas market so it is harder to track, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this film does well in the Bengali belt even if it doesn’t anywhere else.

But it also adds something to the story.  This feels like a fairy tale partly because it is specific.  It doesn’t exist in the already fantastical world of popular Hindi cinema, with the character types we know and the costumes and songs.  It exists in a recognizable Calcutta with recognizable places like hospitals and morgues and police stations.  The fantastical elements shine all the brighter in contrast with the rest.

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10 thoughts on “Pari Review (No Spoilers): A Fairy Tale After All

  1. Anushka(or someone in her production)seems to have a great taste for music as well-as heard from Phillauri & the above song from Pari..she really does take this production business very seriously….I wonder how she finds time for film production,her designer label, acting & Virat..atta girl!

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    • She is so smart in how she spends her time. If she isn’t producing the movie, then she only takes roles in big big films. Her filmography is shockingly short compared to other actresses launched at the same time! And the movies she produces, they are small easy shoots so she can focus on the whole production aspect instead of just performing. And, of course, she doesn’t waste time in her romance either, goes straight for the top and gets the captain of the Indian Cricket team or it’s not worth it 🙂

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      • So true.. all young women including the current crop of actresses will kill to be her just for marrying Virat. Add to that-she has a fashion label called Nush…saw some pics of other celebrities who has worn her brand & her thanking them.. She is part of the Yash Raj,Dharma & SRK camps while maintaining her own place. Very well networked, great attitude, smart choices, hardworking..her career should be made into a case study of how to be smart & diversified in what you do..actress or not..

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  2. I’m trying to resist reading the spoiler review but I bet I won’t be able to. 🙂 If you can tell me without spoilers, is Anushka some type of peri (the Persian fairy I talked about somewhere in comments)? They are minor demons, perpetually fighting with another, worse kind of demon, and there are stories of human men capturing and “marrying” peris by stealing their clothes. Usually the peri gets her clothes back by herself or with help and escapes, often after having children with the human man. Other stories have peri’s denied entrance to paradise until they repent and/or do an act of redemption (not sure what their “original sin” is.) Also–peri’s are supposed to be fair, so I wondered if Anushka’s light eyes and freckles were an indicator of that.

    Thanks! Have a good week!

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