Gaslight (2023) : Movie Review -
Pavan Kirpalani brings a unit of Sara Ali Khan, Chitrangda Singh, Vikrant Massey, Rahul Dev, and Akshay Oberoi for his mystery thriller, "Gaslight." It's a beautiful coincidence that my instant memory of this title takes me right back to George Cukor's "Gaslight" (1944),which was a remake of Thorold Dickinson's British thriller "Gaslight" (1940)-one of my favourite atmospheric thrillers of that time. Both the films were based on Patrick Hamilton's stage play and have a woman as the central character, whose husband wants to prove that she is mentally unstable. That's somewhat similar to what Sara Ali Khan's character is seen doing in Pavan's dark thriller. I told you, it's a beautiful coincidence. Well, there are no other similarities. Gaslight is nowhere near those foreign thrillers I mentioned, if the name has anything to do with it. It's a super dark thriller with some outdated twists and royal scandals we have been sick of seeing again and again. All Gaslight needed was one getaway to find the light, which never happened.
Meesha (Sara Ali Khan),a handicapped girl stuck in a wheelchair, receives a letter from her dada sa to come back home. Eager to reconcile with her estranged father, Meesha visits their ancient palace only to find out that he has gone missing. Rukmani (Chitrangada Singh),a lonely queen, Meesha's cousin Rana (Akshay Oberoi),and a driver named Kapil (Vikrant Massey) are looking for Dada sa, while a cop (Rahul Dev) is least bothered since his past experience taught him a lot. Meesha starts seeing hallucinations, disturbing images, and even death threats at night-all that's needed to make her believe that her father is dead. As she believes it, now the question is, "Who killed him and why?" How can Meesha find out the killer and at the same time save herself? That is all that forms the crux of Gaslight.
As I mentioned earlier, Gaslight is a dark film, so all the elements have to be dark too. From the locations, background score, and framework to even character shades, everything is dark. Does it really matter if there is nothing to entice you as a viewer? Gaslight lacks cinematic and atmospheric brilliance. Those frightening cliches are older than Ramsay Bros. Films. They just can't scare you with a black hand out of a painting in today's Conjuring-era. Pavan should have realised that as a writer. Every single twist is predictable from the start, be it about characters or the plot. The way it unfolds might please you for a moment, but the next frame takes the impact away as you become aware of factual situations. I won't spoil anything, but how can you not expect people to assume a love story so easily? It's too common nowadays, and yet you make it look like a big suspense. Gaslight is full of outdated theories, and that's what has caused it to remain as dim as a thriller. We, as viewers in 2023, definitely deserve smart writing, no?
Sara Ali Khan's attempt at acting-oriented roles must have made her fans happy, especially after Atrangi Re. Sara is good again, but somehow she couldn't throw that Sara out of her while playing Meesha. In a couple of scenes, her dialogue delivery reminds you of her previous roles in Atrangi Re and Love Aaj Kal. Something just reconnects. Don't know why? Expressions or tone of voice, maybe. If Sara can overcome that in the next film (depending on whether the films have similar scenes),then I guess viewers would be able to see a new Sara. Vikrant Massey is now getting typecast, I believe. He needs to break the statue and mould something new. Gaslight took him back to typical roles, and I don't really see why he had to portray Kapil so non-cofiguratively. Chitrangda is back in the same old zone of "Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster," something that a few people call Femme Fatale. A royal scandle and femme fatale in 2023, seriously? How far behind are we lagging really? The supporting roles of Rahul Dev and Akshay Oberoi hardly have anything to offer.
Since it's an OTT product, I should say the theme went wrong. If you are making a dark toned thriller with a major chunk shown at night and scaring audiences with noises and frightening graphics, then the small screen is definitely not your medium. Actually, some scenes are shot so well that you demand a big screen viewing for them. The camerawork is decent, the background score is okay, and the editing is on par. Gaslight has a moderate budget, and the production design is pretty good considering that. However, the visual effects could have been better. Pavan has delivered a couple of watchable thrillers like "Ragini MMS" and "Darr @ The Mall." With Phobia being his work and Phone Bhoot being a mediocre attempt, Gaslight is surely a letdown. Or was it because of the genre? It's a mystery thriller, so if you don't get the thrill and mystery right, the entire game is over. I guess better writing would have helped. More than in direction, Pavan failed as a writer. Gaslight lost itself in darkness so much that it just couldn't find light at all.
RATING - 4/10*