Web Film: Gaslight
Cast: Sara Ali Khan, Vikrant Massey, Chitrangda Singh, Rahul Dev, Shishir Sharma, Akshay Oberoi
Director: Pavan Kirpalani
OTT: Disney+ Hotstar
Rating: 3 Moons
Pavan Kirpalani has mastery in telling stories with a dash of spook and intrigue. Taking the passion for horror-thrillers further, he tells yet another story entangled in the web of betrayal, lies and a dark secret. In Gaslight, headlined by Sara Ali Khan, Vikrant Massey and Chitrangda Singh, he brings back the good old flavour of the thriller genre with an engaging build-up.
Gaslight takes us to Morbi, Gujarat and into the palace of the influential Gaikwads. The palace of the royals looks stunning and elegant but there are dark secrets hidden within closed doors. To uncover them, the king's wheelchair-bound daughter Meesha returns, although reluctantly. Her father is missing and the prime suspect is his second wife Rukmini (Chitrangda Singh). The third member of the house is Kapil (Vikrant Massey). Will Meesha ever reunite with her father after decades? Gaslight answers.
The film begins on an intriguing note. Gaslight gets it perfectly right when it is about the atmospheric play. The palace in which they've shot has been used beautifully to build the drama and thrill. Right from the congested rooms, enormous swimming pool, the corridor and even a step well often called vav in Gujarat, it certainly pays off well especially when the story's logic dwindles. As it begins getting predictable, technical goodness comes to the rescue.
Pavan knows how to create the right mood to give the audience a decent amount of scares and thrills. Gaslight gets some of them on point. As the story progresses, the plot gets richer but sometimes predictable too. It goes without a doubt that the audience watching Gaslight must have been acquainted with basic Hindi thrillers in the past so the guessing game wouldn't be difficult after a while into the film. The game of hide-n-seek between Meesha and an anonymous figure is fun initially but the edge-of-the-seat element gets faded over time.
Gaslight uses routine troupes like black magic etc. but sensibly. You will chuckle initially but there's certainly more to it. All things cliche make more sense only when the film is summing up. The film has its highs and lows. But what it manages to excel in is entertainment. There isn't a single boring moment where you will feel distracted. The constant hustling on the screen will hold attention. As the film approaches the climax, there's a sequence where Rukmini sees her own self right in front of her. This is a discomforting yet one of the best scenes.
Gaslight is an entertaining watch that will find its audience on the OTT but this cannot hide the flaws. At various junctures, it feels disjointed. The angle between Rukmini and the king seems forced. There's nothing much to take away from that, hence the gap between the audience and characters is never reduced. It appears the story just wants to show Meesha's mission to find her father and not focus on building an emotional connection between her and the audience. An interesting flashback portion is there but that's too short to achieve the goal.
The title, Gaslight, has been appropriately chosen. While you might question it, there is an answer to it present right in the middle of the narrative. Find out if you can. What's interesting to see in Gaslight is the cold vibe exchanged between Meesha and Rukmini. It leaves behind a sense of forbidding. On the contrary, the softness in Meesha and Kapil's interactions balances the bitterness. The usage of hallucinations is bang on too. Gaslight is a product of technical brilliance.
Sara Ali Khan as Meesha does a good job. She's particularly strong with the thriller portions and in the second half of the film. However, speaking of the dramatic scenes, she could have gotten a better arc. It is applaudable that Sara is choosing diverse roles and is in the phase of experimenting with varied genres. The last 15 minutes of Gaslight are better than most of her scenes.
Chitrangda is a stunner. There are moments when she steals like a queen. As Rukmini, she carries an aura that's mysterious. She does justice to what's written for her and makes Rukmini a memorable character despite flaws. As mentioned before, the scene where she sees herself in front of her is just brilliant and the credit goes to Chitrangda for executing it so beautifully that one could skip a heartbeat watching it.
Vikrant Massey knows how to steal the show with his innocent looks. The actor has a lot to offer and Gaslight displays a unique side of his acting prowess. He is the best performer in the film and there's no doubt. He raises the bar high every time and how. There's a lot to be said about him but before that, you must watch Gaslight to understand the power of his acting.
Rahul Dev as the cop is underutilised. The purpose behind his character isn't clear till the end. Shishir Sharma owns the character despite getting a brief screen time. He has an important character to play and needless to say, he is fantastic as always. Akshay Oberoi is good but he deserved a better character arc.
Despite the runtime being less than 2 hours, Gaslight begins feeling stretched towards the end. It could have climaxed with the final reveal. The necessity for a stronger backstory can be felt. Nonetheless, the film comes together as a good attempt. You will end the film-watching session with a satisfied smile. For any good horror-thriller drama, cinematography plays a crucial role. Gaslight is proof. The camera shots are so stunning that you are instantly sucked into it.
Gaslight is a fresh and good attempt by Pavan and his team. Despite being flawed, the momentum is steady and not too fast nor too slow. Watch it for a fun and engaging experience over the weekend.
PeepingMoon gives Gaslight 3 Moons