‘Gaslight’: Little Impact from Sara Ali Khan

By Shubhra Gupta

A young woman who returns after a long gap to a Rajasthan ‘haveli’ where she spent her childhood, is beset by dark dreams. Her father isn’t there to welcome her. Days go by and there’s no sign of him. Ghostly figures flit behind curtains, a gaslight lantern left winking on the floor the only evidence that someone was there. Things go bump in the night. And every time Meesha (Sara Ali Khan) tries to bring these fearful occurrences up with the sultry siren (Chitrangada Singh) firmly ensconced in the mansion, she’s told she’s imagining things.

The set-up is ripe for a slushy thriller, and the actors are an interesting mix, but the film never really takes off. That there is strain between Meesha’s royal parents is evident at a birthday party, which we see in flashback: that something drastic has happened to the ‘rani-sa’ and that the ‘raja’ is missing, comes as no surprise.
The unease that starts enveloping the older Meesha, now in a wheelchair after an accident, is also predictable. But none of the mystery tropes the film reaches out for – unexplained noises, a black-robed soothsayer going into a trance, the family dog barking at suspicious movements– dials up the dread. The whole thing becomes a drone much too soon.

The only actor who rises somewhat above his lines is Akshay Oberoi, playing an entitled prince, and Meesha’s distant cousin, with a degree of flash. The rest, including Sara Ali Khan and Vikrant Massey who can usually be relied upon to get us to look, leave little impact.

There’s one stand-out sequence in which a character is murdered most stylishly against the sand-dunes. The stark shadows cast by the victim and the killer in the dead of night, takes the film straight into noir territory. It makes you sit up and take notice. ‘Gaslight’ could have done with more of those moments.

Cast: Sara Ali Khan, Chitrangada Singh, Vikrant Massey, Akshay Oberoi, Rahul Dev, Shishir Sharma
Director: Pavan Kirpalani
Rating: 1.5 stars — Indian Express