Taapsee Pannu and Vijay Sethupathi have come together for the first time in the Tamil film titled Anabelle Sethupathi, which has been dubbed in Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi and is streaming on Disney+Hotstar. The Hindi title is, of course, Anabelle Rathore.
Directed by Deepak Sundarrajan, the film tries to be a lot of things - a horror-comedy, a revenge drama, a reincarnation saga - but there is still not enough to justify its runtime of 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Annabelle Rathore tries hard to give Taapsee a double role. The first one is Rudra who, simply put, is a thief. She and her family can flick chains, wallets and phones with ease. And then there is the bizarre decision to cast her as a British woman named Anabelle, who marries an Indian Raja in the 1940s. The character has a dubbed firang accent, but the scenes never sit well.
Soon, Rudra and her family end up inside the same palace which, unknown to them, has a reputation of being haunted. We are given some information about how Raja Devendra Singh Rathore (Vijay Sethupathi) built the humongous palace with marvellous artistry for his wife Anabelle. Things do not end well after Chandrabhan (Jagapathi Baby), the man who sold Rathore the land, becomes jealous and wants to grab the majestic property.
In the present day, Rudra finds herself surrounded by ghosts. There are a few laughs tucked here and there because of special effects and the stereotypical ghost. For instance, a jar held by one of the ghosts hangs mid air, a sword comes dangerously close without anyone wielding it - the expected 'comedy' in horror basically. One of the truest lines are delivered by Yogi Babu, who talks about how no one tells new stories anymore and directors use the same stale material to sell their films. At least this film doesn’t pretend to be great shakes.
But the one gnawing question to which we can find no answer is why did actors of Taapsee and Sethupathi’s caliber agree to do this movie? Probably on paper it looked better, but when translated on screen Anabelle Rathore just keeps stretching incredulity to a snapping point. Strangely, the bits when the reincarnation theory is played out and flashbacks inserted because of the fantasy feel appear more tolerable. But the so-called funny portions aren't funny at all. It isn’t the sort of film that one should care much about, but it’s 2021 and to still use casteist slurs and make jokes about a character's complexion isn’t cool. The world has changed and clearly the makers did not get the memo.
Our rating: 2 Quints out of 5
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