You need an appetite for horror movies to feast on debutant director Akshay Akkineni’s spook fest where screechy, pregnant women, an eerie little girl, an axe-wielding hunk and a disappearing pizza suck up the spotlight.
Akkineni, however, must share the credit with Tamil writer-director Karthik Subbaraj for making it in Tamil first. Titled ‘Pizza’, the movie was a box-office stunner in 2012 and has been remade in Kannada and Bengali so far.
Although South Indian remakes are off lost in translation, this Bollywood version is faithful to the original, without compromising on the plot.
Kunal is an earnest Pizza delivery boy, who dreams of making it big one day. He works honestly and hopes to give his wife Nikita a life of immense happiness. So, while she busies herself in attempting to write a horror novel, he invests his time in winning over his boss and a massive promotion. He refuses to believe in the supernatural and balks at those who do.
Until one night, his pizza-delivery order leads him to a house that’s filled with deep, dark secrets. He suddenly finds himself locked away in a house infested with unforgiving spirits, who mercilessly feast on his fear, and his pizza.
Armed with a torch, a disconnected telephone, a mobile with little or no network, and an axe, Kunal must stay alive and escape the wrath of the damaged souls.
Akkineni corners his protagonist with horror staples like bloodied bodies hanging off the wall or hidden in bathtubs, or creepy hands that hide under beds, but manages to pull it through with terrific strokes in the end.
While the routines might be ridiculed by ardent followers of this genre for being borrowed and unimaginative, it’s ample to scare the fainthearted (like me).
Akkineni’s efforts are ably backed by a solid cast, with Akshay Oberoi holding fort impressively. He’s impeccable as the timid Kunal, exploiting his insecurities and fears with maturity and restraint. For a bloke fresh on the Bollywood trail, that’s bloody impressive.
Parvathyy Omanakuttan, who makes her debut as a lead actor, proves she’s his perfect match, lending a genuine charm and likability to Nikita. Even the supporting cast of Dipanita Sharma, Arunodaya Singh and Rajesh Sharma are sincere.
Despite a romantic soundtrack, editor Sreekar Prasad doesn’t let the narrative to crumble at 120-minutes of screech (sorry, screen) time. Even Tapas Nayak deserves applause for the sound. Anita Rajagopalan and Donald Reagan dress up the locations perfectly, while cinematographer Jayakrishna Gummadi’s frames it notably.
‘Pizza’ manages to revive a genre that was long forgotten in Bollywood, and one that was unfairly reduced to soppy musical romances by the Bhatt brothers.
Hopefully, Akkineni will manage to wipe away the damage.