This is gonna be a tricky review to write, because this plot is CONFUSING. Or maybe it isn’t? Maybe once I write it all down I will discover it was all meaningless show and no real complexity?
Whole Plot in Two Paragraphs:
Sara is a paraplegic princess who returns to visit her father for the first time in years, only when she arrives home her young stepmother Chitrangada is there and no father. She starts having visions of her father and follows them through the mansion, and is sure something is wrong. She insists on calling the police who try to calm her and convince her nothing is wrong. She befriends Vikrant Massay, the loyal estate manager, who also misses her father. He takes her around and helps her investigate, making her more and more convinced her father is dead, possibly killed by her stepmother Chitrangada and her wealthy cousin who is trying to buy the house. But then the cousin is killed as well, what is happening? Sara finally finds her father’s body, sunk in the well, and she and her loyal driver leave to go to the police. But they are both knocked out and Sara wakes up to see that VIKRANT MASSAY is trying to push their car into a lake. He is Chitrangada’s secret lover, he has been working with her this whole time and tricking Sara. The car goes in the lake and Chitrangada feels guilty, but Vikrant reassures her they are doing the right thing. We see in flashback that Sara’s father walked in on them kissing and started attacking Chitrangada, Vikrant hit him to save Chitrangada and killed him. Everything else that happened was to protect their secret and the heritage of their baby (Chitrangada is pregnant).
But just as they think they are safe, Chitrangada sees Sara again in the mansion. And she stands up and walks! Another twist, Sara isn’t Sara! She is a therapist/doctor who was raised and educated through Sara’s father’s foundation. Years later, Sara’s doctor asked her to help Sara who was in a deep depression. She did and they became friends, only for Sara to kill herself after her father suddenly stopped communicating with her. “Sara” came back to the palace in disguise, with the help of the doctor, in order to find out why the father disappeared and what really happened. Because she was not actually a paraplegic, she was able to escape the sinking car and come back. Vikrant chases her, she tricks him by letting him take a gun from her that she had sabotaged, and the “happy ending” is all the orphans and things from the foundation coming to live at the mansion.
There’s too many good ideas here! And they never really come together. The “fragile” heroine actually being a mentally and physically healthy young woman is great, the idea that she uses her fragility as part of her disguise, that she is tricking them while they are tricking her. There’s also this really interesting comparison between Vikrant and Sara, both of them poor orphans sponsored by the rich king, but Vikrant grew up to resent him while Sara felt only gratitude. And the twist of Chitrangada, she seems totally in control and in charge at all times, but in the flashback we realize she was afraid of her husband, and now is in thrall to Vikrant, a pawn in the power struggle between the two men.
Oh, and the mysterious “accident” we never actually learn about. The real Sara was crippled and psychologically damaged after the “accident” in which her mother died. Ever since they, she refused to see her father and lived away from him although he continued to reach out. Did her Dad do something to her mother? Is that why she hated him? We see him being legitimately scary with Chitrangada in the flashback, somehow it feels like that is another missing thread.
The biggest problem, for me, is that the movie can’t seem to make up its mind about rich people. There’s meaning in Vikrant and Sara being the opposing figures at the end, and both of them being lower class. But Sara is avenging a rich man! And she is the heroine. So, the “proper” use of a lower class person is to help the rich? In return for the casual charity the rich give them? If that is the case, why do we have all these moments in which the rich are less than virtuous? Why leave open what the father did to the mother, and show him attacking Chitrangada? What are you saying, movie?????
The line that keeps being repeated is “both the good and bad you do comes back tenfold”, a saying of the dead rich father. And we get sort of a thematic tie in at the end with Sara and Vikrant, he took Vikrant on as a servant but then abused him and that moment of cruelty caused his death as Vikrant seduced his wife and planned to take over his house in revenge. And Sara being sponsored by him and treated kindly, means she is there to avenge him, the two halves of his deeds on earth. But if that truly is the theme, lets have some more of it! Why did the original Sara die? Why was she so tortured? Did her Dad do something terrible which is why he was punished by his daughter’s estrangement? What about Chitrangada? What did she do that was so “bad” she ends up dying in the final fight as well? Cheating on her husband? Helping her lover hide the death of her husband? Something else?
I just wish they had picked a twist and stuck to it, and therefore also picked a theme. If the only twist was “Sara’s not crippled and not even Sara”, that would have been REALLY cool, a statement on how “harmless” women are overlooked and discounted. No need for the rest of it, the long connection to the family and all that. Just have her be an undercover police woman or something. Or if the twist was “Vikrant pretends to be loving and loyal to the family but secretly hates them all”, as a great statement on how the “charity” of the rich has a hidden violence to it. Or if the twist was “Chitrangada seemed powerful and in control but actually was weak and terrified and controlled by Vikrant”, a good statement about how we perceive confident women versus the reality of their power in the world. But as it is, too many statements! Too many twists! Too much!
Acting is perfect thought, and cinematography, it’s a very cool looking movie. Just don’t try to untangle the plot and find a purpose to it, there’s no there there.
Thank you for watching and reviewing it. I am not the audience for scary movies, but recently, mainly due to Ahushka’s production company, I will watch scary movies, if the point of the movie is to show how scary the subjugation of women can be. I was also intrigued by this movie in particular because of its name. I really liked the original English Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman and wondered if this would be a bit of a twist on that.
But then, I read the plot on Wikipedia when the movie first came out and remember thinking this makes no sense to me. What is the point to this movie?! The father seems like a cruel, abusive jerk who deserved to die. Reading your review confirms my gut reaction and helps solidify my decision never to watch it.
It kept bugging me that Sara could reach every corner of the huge palace and grounds on her wheelchair without assistance. After the end I’m thinking maybe she just walked and somehow dragged the chair with her. There didn’t seem to be any staff around anyway! Also, if she’s able-bodied, wouldn’t she reflexively try to escape when pushed down the stairs? Would I be thinking these things if the narrative had been more engaging? Anyway my favorite was Akshay Oberoi, who seemed to be having the most fun. I had really liked him in the adaptation of Those Pricey Thakur Girls by Anuja Chauhan. I forget the name but you might enjoy it.
Kainaat— Where were you able to watch Dilli Wali Thakur Girls? Also what did you think of the series? I enjoy Anuja Chauhan’s novels so it would be fun to see the adaptation. Unless it was awful of course.
So apparently there are two adaptations – Dilli Wali Thakur Girls which was on tv and Dil Bekaraar on Hotstar which is the one I watched. I haven’t read the book, just looked up the summary before watching. It’s really carried by the main couple Akshay Oberoi and Saher Bamba and the parents Raj Babbar and Poonam Dhillon, who were delightful. I remember really liking the Indian 90s setting. I wish the other sisters’ storylines were more fleshed out. I was glad I watched it.
I have added it to my queue! I am going to try and watch it this weekend! Thank you for the recommendation!
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See, I wanted more about her being in the wheelchair! Like, maybe she is a physical therapist so she is experienced in how to navigate in a chair. Or she was a fellow patient who completed physical therapy. Or an athlete. INstead of just some regular person who could walk.
I haven’t watched this movie. But from the name of it, to the look and even the theme all make it look like it is a poor copy of some English movie. Dont you feel tired watching poor copies of original American movies in Bollywood? Does it ever get tiring to sit through these rip offs.
Or am I completely wrong. Are most of these Bollywood films original and doesnt remind you of things that you have already watched in the west?
It sounds to me like they stole at least part of the plot of Taste of Fear, but it’s not anywhere near as good. I mean, I guess ultimately all thrillers with that kind of plot steal from Les Diaboliques but the wheelchair element and the way it’s used especially.
Actually you know it’s DEFINITELY stolen from Taste of Fear. The body in the well, the diving, that’s a major element of that movie.
Which means, somewhere in INdia, is a Christopher Lee fan! You should be penpals.
Yeah, I really wonder how whoever was involved got that movie. Though it’s semi-famous among cinematography and horror nerds for the quality of the cinematography and because it’s one of the best Hammer releases.