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Review: 13 B

Review: 13 B

Source: General

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Friday 06 March 2009

Movie Title

Review: 13 B

Director

Vikram K. Kumar

Star Cast

R Madhavan, Neetu Chandra, Sachin Khedekar, Murli Sharma, Poonam Dhillon

A scary movie with a title focusing on a number considered ominous would be expected to build a premise around it. But except for the fact that our central character buys a home numbered 13, and a few other niggling references to the number, there?s hardly any connection with 13 as it were.

So we meet Manohar (Madhavan), a civil engineer whose joint family could give you a saccharin overdose, even ahead of the advertisement smiley folks.

This family, comprising his wife (Neetu Chandra), a TV soap-addicted mother (Poonam Dhillon, looking smashing) and his brother?s family with their two kids, has just moved into a new flat 13 B in a posh building.

Now, strange things begin to happen almost immediately: the lift stops working when Manohar steps into it, his photograph on the mobile cam comes constantly distorted and his bleeding thumb makes a `B? pattern on the floor.

This worries Manohar but what really shocks him is a family programme called Sab Khairiyat (All Well) that revolves around a family just like his. Eventually, he realises a pattern: the serial?s twists and turns are being reflected in his life.

Meanwhile a certain Dr Desai (Sachin Khedekar) talks about the paranormal, quoting Newton?s third law (the action-reaction one), and asks on the television screen, ?Kahan gaye sab mare hue log?? Bang in the middle of all this, Manohar and wife cavort playfully singing a nice, but terribly incongruous romantic song.

Throughout 13 B, the family is constantly in trouble that we see through rainy nights, overbearing music, a mysterious box unearthed by the neighborhood dog, and electricity blackouts where they roam the house with long-stemmed candles.

Turns out the mysterious happenings were courtesy paranormal powers that wanted revenge (our films have seriously typecast the spirit world!). Bizarrely, they thought it best to do so by infiltrating the TV set and spooking the life out of Manohar.

At one point, one of spirits talks directly to the culprit and tells him what he did was wrong. For ghosts so articulate and capable of putting across a message this succinctly, you wonder why they were beating around the bush for the entire film?s length, even making Manohar walk up 13 floors every day.

Also, the climax begs the question why the revenge is sought after 30 long years; how Manohar?s family and the TV serial family are so spookily similar; and what is the film?s profound connection with the number 13 after all? Director Vikram K. Kumar takes too many things for granted and the dots don?t connect to form a cohesive picture. Let it be: these factors are expected to be taken care of by `cinematic license?.

If you do allow yourself to ignore these fundamental questions, you might genuinely be involved in the story?s turns towards the end, and be spooked in a couple of scenes. Manohar?s cop friend (Murli Sharma) has a track that adds some black humour, but is sadly cut short.

Characterisations in the film are ironically straight out of a TV saas-bahu serial: the men are the hard-working, successful breadwinners and the women are the happy-buzzing-in-the-kitchen variety.

Madhavan is a fine actor and easy on the eyes; but here he looks tired and overweight. Neetu Chandra doesn?t have much to do, but is fairly likeable as the sprightly wife. Poonam Dhillon adds spunk to her clich?d character.

The film?s cinematography has some interesting shot-taking but at other times is over-shaky. Background score, like in most films of this genre, refuses to remain in the background and constantly distracts from the story.

Veering on the ridiculous, 13 B doesn?t convince you of the story and you don?t really care about the characters. And so, all you have is a rather underwhelming attempt at a supernatural edge-of-the-seater.

Verdict: One-and-a-half stars

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