3 out of 5 (Good)
13B succeeds in sending a shiver down your spine. With an innovative approach, it could also be called horror redefined in Bollywood.
Ashok Nayak Fri, 06 Mar 2009
Vikram K Kumar known for his award winning short film 'Silent Scream' is back with a bilingual horror flick title "13B". Starring Madhavan and Neetu Chandra in the lead roles with Poonam Dhillon and Deepak Dobriyal in supporting roles, the movie promises to send a shiver down your spine. Have you ever had any paranormal experiences? If not, experience now...
Manohar (Mahadevan), a typical middle class urban male moves to a new apartment 13B on the 13th floor along with his family - wife Priya (Neetu Chandra), his mother (Poonam Dhillon), sister Divya, his elder brother Manoj and his sister-in-law along with their two kids. Just as usual they begin their day on a joyous note and their usual routine, nevertheless Manohar begins to experience some strange happenings. Like the milk getting curdled every day, the portraits of Gods can't be hung on the impenetrable walls, the lift fails to work when Manohar is alone, his cell phone camera relentlessly distorts his face and the mysterious neighbor's dog simply refuses to enter the flat with his master. If you feel this is not enough, Manohar soon chances upon on a daily soap that his family is glued to ever since they moved into the apartment named "Sab Khairiyat" that airs on channel 13 at 13.00 hours only at his home. To his shock he realizes that discovers that his life is actually unfolding on the lines of a TV serial. Manohar with the help of his friend Shiva (Murli Sharma) work hard to unravel several life threatening mysteries.
Usually Bollywood horror flicks revolve around an old house, evil possession - body-possessed-by-spirit, exorcism, a mixture of witch craft and voodoo which are low on story and crumble in climax. But with 13B, director Vikram Kumar blends in an easily identifiable urban setting unfolding the suspense with the help of contemporary gadgetries like mobile phone, television and the present global obsession - the endless number of soaps which seems to have completely taken over our lives, lifts, lights and many more. Whilst maintaining the spooky momentum, the unusual happenings and the paranoia is explained using law of physic and not with typical Bollywood cliches like voodoo, baba's and long shambo bambo mantras.
13B does not completely rely on spooky background score or erratic camera angles for the fear quotient. It has a strong thrilling story with tension filled horrific elements brewing through the veins for most of its runtime with death lurking incidents at every twist at the right time. The contemporary plotline also makes it easy to connect with the characters and feel their confusion and vulnerability. The first half of the movie is spent in creating panic and fear - the supernatural effect induced through day to day activities. Whilst the flash back filled second half convincingly unveils the actual ambiguity and the suspense behind the weird experiences. The story is not fool proof with its own share of cinematic liberties but it keeps your adrenalin on the high side. Also, the runtime is a bit too long for a movie of this genre with unnecessary love songs that break the ongoing suspense. The dialogues are conventional and easily traceable with our day to day life. The cinematography is excellent and zippy that perfectly matches with the narrative. Editing by Sreekar Prasad is crisp. The climax is convincing and intelligent.
The complete spontaneity of the ensemble cast, ably led by Madhavan who is extremely endearing as a man torn between the supernatural and virtual life, adds to the score of the movie. Neetu Chandra is competent while Poonam Dhillon as the mother gets very little scope. Deepak Dobriyal impresses and so does Dhrtiman Chatterjee.
To sum up, 13B succeeds in sending a shiver down your spine. With an innovative approach, it could also be called horror redefined in Bollywood.
Critic: Ashok Nayak
3 out of 5 (Good)