Tag Archives: Mrinalini Sharma

Movie Review: 3G (2013)

3G0 Stars (out of 4)

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There’s been much discussion recently about the role the Hindi film industry plays in perpetuating negative stereotypes of women and encouraging male violence against women. Those who hold Bollywood responsible need look no further than 3G for supporting evidence. The movie is a masterpiece of misogyny and an inept horror movie to boot.

The film starts with a laughable premise. Onscreen text informs us: “4.3 billion mobile users in the world. Every minute 60 thousand calls of unknown sources of origin received worldwide… People believe these calls are spirits trying to connect to our world.” No one believes that! Those calls from “Unknown Number” aren’t from ghosts. They’re from telemarketers.

The text disappears to make way for scenes of a happy couple at a secluded lake. Then the guy stabs the woman in the eye with a lit road flare. Roll opening credits!

We don’t see the guy again until later, as the story shifts to a couple vacationing in Fiji. Sam (Neil Nitin Mukesh) makes an absurd entrance via speedboat, only to have his girlfriend, Sheena (Sonal Chauhan), accidentally knock his cell phone into the ocean. The used 3G phone he buys as a replacement is haunted.

Sheena is apparently terrible at reading people, and she laughs at the increasingly haggard-looking Sam when he confesses that he gets calls in the middle of the night from a strange woman. At first, the woman confesses her love. Then a video shows her being murdered. Then Sam starts seeing her in person, culminating in Sheena turning into the dead lady while Sam makes out with her.

This would seem to be the classic horror plot device of a ghost contacting the living to obtain posthumous justice. Typically, Sam could rid himself of the specter by finding the woman’s body and the identity of her killer. Instead, Sam becomes periodically possessed by the spirit of the man who killed the woman, during which times he tries to kill Sheena. Or himself.

Just who exactly is haunting this phone?

The identity of the woman, Chaima (Mrinalini Sharma), and her killer, Mong (Asheesh Kapoor), are revealed late in the film. I’m not spoiling anything as there are no clues to their identities earlier in the story. They are brand new characters introduced at the last minute with no connection to other side characters, despite some nonsensical retroactive continuity.

There’s no way to explain the nature of the haunting, because the filmmakers threw a bunch of horror clichés at the wall to see what would stick. The phone is haunted because of an ancient Greek cult! Fijian witchcraft! Science!

The scientific explanations are hilarious. Apparently, Mong was a programmer trying to find a way to contact the dead by getting cell phone signals to interact with the “God particle,” or Higgs boson. Here’s the thing: THE GOD PARTICLE IS NOT GOD! It is not supernatural!

Catholic symbolism is tossed about as well, though the rosary Sam wears has no effect on him when he’s possessed, nor does the priest they consult offer any useful information.

3G could be forgiven were it just an inexpertly made horror movie, but the way it depicts women is reprehensible. According to 3G, women are objects of male lust who deserve punishment (by men) for having been objectified (by men).

Take the way that directors Sheershak Anand and Shantanu Ray Chhibber portray their lead actors. There’s one shot of Mukesh emerging from the pool shirtless, but dozens of voyeuristic shots of Chauhan. Her character is introduced emerging from the ocean in slow motion wearing a bikini. She writhes around in the sand, on a bed, and on a kitchen island, arching her back and contorting her face in simulated orgasm. The camera pans across her legs, lingering on her breasts and her buttocks.

The saddest part of the film comes when, via flashback, Chaima admits to being a porn star, the “crime” for which Mong ultimately kills her. She pleads with him for mercy, saying, “You have no idea what I escaped from.” So, Chaima left a situation so bad that working in porn is a step up, yet Mong has no sympathy for her.

The film ends with another bit of text almost as dumb as that which started the film: “13000 adult clips are downloaded every minute on mobile networks worldwide… Resulting in 27% of personal relationships breaking up.”

I’m skeptical of the stats supplied by Shantanu & Sheershak, let alone the conclusions drawn from them. Their solution to the scourge of porn is typical victim-blaming. According to them, the problem isn’t due to the millions of men who download the clips, it’s caused by the women who make the movies. Kill all the porn stars, and there will be no porn!

This is exactly the kind of sexist bullshit that Bollywood is rightly criticized for. Crimes against women aren’t committed because of movies (just like video games don’t cause mass shootings), but there are thousands of men who will watch 3G and take it as confirmation of their twisted opinions: “Women are greedy, lying sluts who will do anything for money.” This kind of misogyny is toxic and needs to stop.

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Movie Review: Hide & Seek (2010)

2 Stars (out of 4)

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I am a coward when it comes to horror movies, so I was pleased to find Hide & Seek: a horror movie tame enough that I could actually watch it, instead of just covering my eyes with my hands.

The premise of the film is conventional: something went terribly wrong at a Christmas party among a group of six teenage friends, and twelve years later — when the pals are all around thirty — a killer takes revenge against the former pals.

Hide & Seek reveals a huge casting mistake early on by using two different sets of actors to play the characters as young adults and as thirty-somethings. At the time of the party, all of the characters have obviously gone through puberty, so they’re not going to change much in appearance in the span of a dozen years (apart from stylistic choices and a few pounds gained or lost). But none of the young actors look anything like their older counterparts. As more mature adults, one of the women is taller than a man who used to tower over her.

The opening credit sequence features a montage of clips from the Christmas party before the actions shifts to the present, twelve years later. I spent the first half-hour of the movie trying to reconcile which adult characters were supposed to be which teens from the party footage, in addition to what the relationships were between the characters then and now. Rather than keeping track of six characters, it was like keeping track of twelve.

The confusion could’ve been avoided by changing the time frame a bit, employing a single set of actors to play, say, 22-year-old college students and 34-year-old professionals.

The main character is Om (Purab Kholi), who spent twelve years in a mental asylum, after the events of the Christmas party. Shortly after he’s released, his old flame, Jyotika (Mrinalini Sharma), contacts him and he receives a cryptic message. The other party attendees — Om’s brother, Abhi (Sameer Kochhar); wallflower Gunita (Amruta Patki); thug Jaideep (Arjan Bajwa); and Jaideep’s former lackey, Imran (Ayaz Khan) — all receive the same message. Everyone is kidnapped and locked in a shopping mall.

A villain dressed as Santa Claus explains via video that they must play a game of hide and seek. If they try to escape, Santa will kill them. Om and Jyotika run off to hide together while Gunita, Jaideep and Imran go their separate ways. Abhi promises to come find them all after twenty minutes.

As the bewildered former pals try to figure out why they’ve been kidnapped and who’s wearing the Santa suit, old rivalries come to the surface. Flashbacks to the party slowly reveal what happened that night and who’s behind the deadly game playing itself out in the mall.

The idea of being punished for past crimes is nothing new, but there is some degree of ambiguity to the actions of some of the friends. I’m not so sure they all deserve to be punished, but, then again, I’m not a homicidal maniac.

This is not a movie for serious horror movie fans. It’s not scary, and it’s not even that atmospheric. But, if the mere sight of Freddy Kruger is enough to give you nightmares, Hide & Seek is a watchable baby step into the world of horror movies.

Links

  • Hide & Seek at IMDb