Rakkhosh: The devil in the mind

Ambika Shaligram
Friday, 18 January 2019

RAKKHOSH (Demon)
Language: Hindi 
Director: Abhijit Kokate, Srivinay Salian
Starring: Sanjay Mishra, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Priyanka Bose, Barun Chanda, Sonamoni Jayant and Namit Das (voiceover)

In a telling scene, Dr Idris Shah (Barun Chanda) soothes Kalima (Sonamoni Jayant), the nurse of his mental asylum with these words — ‘Don’t worry, this is society’s dumpyard. No one is going to come and check on them.’ This and the scenes in which the workers in the asylum hit and abuse the patients convey all that is wrong in our society. Typically, there are not enough takers for films like Rakkhosh — which is based on Narayan Dharap’s short story Patient No 302 and was developed by Salian — that compel us to look around and admit, “Yes, we are wrong”. 

But Rakkhosh is different on many counts. It’s a sad story, but there is enough drama to keep the viewers hooked. It has been shot in POV or point of view format, with the actors looking into the camera; the makers claim that this is a first for any Indian film. Watching a POV film for the first time can be jarring at times. But for a subject like this, in which you have to travel deep down into the mind, the format works. 

The mind here is that of Birsa Sekhri (voiceover of Namit Das), who we never see on the screen. He and Kumar John (Sanjay Mishra) are in the same team and together they try to trace the Rakkhosh in their midst. With journalist Riddhima (Priyanka Bose) egging them and the complicity of Swapnil (Atul Mahale), a Class III officer at the asylum, we are slowly exposed to the sinister workings of the asylum. Eight patients have been murdered and the chase is hot. An insane mind is at work. After all, as Birsa says, ‘Pagal to bahar hai, andar sab beemar hai’.

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