Okay, so you have three dead people making their reappearance as ghosts. They are suspended from the ceiling, and have scared the living daylights out of the protagonist.
If you can imagine that in the very next scene, a fast-cut nonetheless, that these three are going to open their eyes wide, well, for a scary film, that is a big letdown.
Scary films must jolt you when you least expect it, and not let you predict every next move. That, precisely, is where Pizza, directed by Akshay Akkineni, the son of Sreekar Prasad, one of India’s finest editors, lets you down.
For a Sreekar Prasad-edited film, Pizza, indeed, lacks the punch. It has scary moments no doubt – but nothing that you haven’t seen before nor that you can’t anticipate. So when the child ghost – a mandatory of the horror genre – comes to the accompaniment of ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ on the background score, you can pretty well expect that the cute kid is not up to any good. And it isn’t. Unfortunately, it doesn’t scare you either.
What makes Pizza just another of those fast-forgotten Bollywood films, indeed, lies in its execution. The desperation of the pizza delivery guy caught in a haunted house is sorely lacking in Akshay Oberoi’s act, not really for his fault.
For a good half hour if not more, the film merely meanders through attempts to shock you, taking the story and narration for a toss. You could give the entire ‘scary part’ a miss and you will miss nothing.
That is precisely where the Tamil original of the movie had scored big. The scare part in it was seamless, Vijay Sethupathi took you through his predicament convincingly, and when it is all over, you rooted for the guy – as the Tamil film industry did and made Vijay an overnight star.
In the Hindi version, a rather scene by scene remake, there is no sense of urgency to the proceedings, and the scares seem forced. That is a pity, because Pizza still had the potential for a powerful second telling.
In the first ten minutes or so, Kunal (Akshay Oberoi) is reminded by his wife (Parvathy Omanakuttan), an aspiring horror fiction writer, that fear comes in a moment, and that Kunal’s would come soon too. That is a smart build-up, and it works, inducing that streak of fear in you.
But when ‘your moment will come’ line is repeated again and again – and the moment never seems to come for the viewer- you realize this is a film that doesn’t walk the talk. It only does the build-up and fails to go for the jugular.
Thankfully, the Bollywood-ised Pizza is also spared of excess fat. It does not take you to discotheques or item numbers, it keeps the characters real, and there is no show of superhuman muscle power.
On the performance side, you can see that Akshay Oberoi is a man of talent, and given a few good movies, he will go places. Parvathy Omanakuttan has little to do, and surprise, surprise, she gives the impression she can act better than most of the other Miss Indias put together. A better film selection, and Parvathy could define her place as an actor of substance.
As for Arunoday Singh and Dipannita Sharma, who appeared as Mr & Mrs Ghost, well, shall we thank thee for not scaring us?
Pizza builds up way too much to scare you, killing its own ‘scare factor.’ For a suspense thriller, it might work, but for a supernatural flick, its falls way too short.