‘Gaslight’ 2023 Bollywood Movie Review

Pavan Kirpalani gave us one of the best horror films of all time with "Phobia", starring Radhika Apte. This is the film that educated me about agoraphobia and showed us what it can be like to be afraid of going out of your house and being in the company of many people. 

In addition, it has some interesting twists and turns that left me wondering about the story long after the credits rolled. 

‘Gaslight’ 2023 Bollywood Movie Review

That said, this is probably the only good film he has made. It is commendable that he stuck to the horror genre and gave us "Ragini MMS", "Darr @ the Mall" and "Bhoot Police", where he experimented with CGI and grounded these stories in an Indian setting instead of making them look like a Hollywood copy. 

Kirpalani's latest project, "Gaslight", is no different. This time, however, he has taken on a new challenge that forces you to squint throughout the film's 111-minute running time to see what's going on.

Co-written with Neha Sharma, Pavan Kirpalani's "Gaslight" opens with the death of a woman. We then travel to Morbi to see Meesha (Sara Ali Khan) return to her palatial home. She is apparently the daughter of Ratan (Shishir Sharma) and Gayatri, who lost the ability to walk following an accident. 

The people occupying her house are her mother-in-law Rukmani (Chitrangada Singh), Ratan's employees Kapil (Vikrant Massey), Padam Kaka (Vinod Kumar Sharma), Lajjo (Ashmita Jaggi), and several other workers. Meesha obviously hates Rukmani for dividing her family. 

But what worries her most is Ratan's absence, especially since it was he who asked her to return. The situation worsens when Meesha begins to see Ratan's ghost wandering the palace corridors. With the arrival of her distant cousin, Rana (Akshay Oberoi), and the general secretary Ashok (Rahul Dev), it becomes clear that Ratan's disappearance and the supernatural apparitions have something to do with upsetting Meesha and getting her to give up her half of the estate.

‘Gaslight’ 2023 Official Trailer

To be fair, Neha Sharma and Pavan Kirpalani want to talk about the false benevolence of the castes and upper classes and how it can mark the lives of people from minority communities in "Gaslight". 

But given that they devote most of the film's plot to red herrings and a ghost, and then dump the anti-Castro aspect of the story on the characters and the audience at the last moment, the impact is not at all there. Sharma and Kirpalani even try to talk about the infidelity of upper-caste men, but how they are the first to react violently when someone else does the same things as them. 

However, because the film ends up portraying the individual from a minority community as the big bad of the story, it does more harm than good. I think they are trying to show that the character's "badness" is the result of years of oppression and torture, but the writing is so bad that his actions seem heinous and not an act of rebellion. Like any bad horror film, "Gaslight" feels like an endless barrage of explanations. 

‘Gaslight’ 2023 Movie

None of the characters have a conversation. They discuss plot details but rarely what they are experiencing, which makes for a boring viewing experience.

I use the term "visual experience" in the broadest sense, because you hardly see anything in "Gaslight". As the first images of the film are underwater and therefore incredibly dark, I thought that the rest of the film would not look like that. 

I was wrong. It always looks like someone has turned the lights down to zero, whether it's on land, day, night, outdoor or indoor settings. If you really want to watch this movie, I suggest you add a plug-in that increases the luminance of your screen to 9000, because that's the only way you can see what's going on. 

By the way, it's not by mistake that the film looks like this. It is clearly a choice of Kirpalani and cinematographer Ragul Herian Dharuman. 

Why is that? I guess they thought the dark images would complement the 'dark' tone of the story. Instead, they ended up with muddy, ugly images. Kirpalani tries to scare you with the editing and sound design. However, the execution is so amateurish that these moments are unintentionally hilarious. 

The final moments of "Gaslight" feature some dynamic images and lighting, but it's too little, too late.

‘Gaslight’ 2023 Bollywood Movie

As far as performances are concerned, Sara Ali Khan is supposed to be the linchpin of the film.

However, she is the weakest aspect of 'Gaslight'. She is constantly criticized for being a nepo baby and picking and choosing her projects. But credit where credit is due: this film should have been a smash hit because she is the centre of a film with Vikrant Massey and Chitrangada Singh. However, the writing, directing and her mediocre acting skills prevent her from shining in any way. Perhaps she can learn something from Massey. Between 2019 and 2023, 

Vikrant Massey has appeared in 2 shows and 11 films (including this one), and no matter how good or bad those projects are, he always overshadows every other cast member. Without overdoing it in terms of appearance, he totally transforms himself into the characters he plays, allowing us to believe in his motivations and emotions. 

Chitrangada Singh is quite good, even if her character is quite stereotypical. Akshay Oberoi chews the scenery because he knows that's the only way to get noticed in this film, and it works. Rahul Dev looks bored. As for the rest of the cast, they are fine.


"Gaslight" is an unwatchable film. You really have to struggle to watch it because of the boring narration and the terrible visuals. I can't even recommend the film by saying that it has its heart in the right place because it apparently wants to be a story about how upper caste people oppress and patronise anyone who doesn't belong to their community. 

But it misfires in the third act in such a horrible way that its "eat the rich" theme sinks in like a stone chained to another stone. If you're not a horror fan and want to brag to your friends that you've watched a horror film in its entirety, then you might want to dive into "Gaslight". I don't like to categorise films as 'feature films'. 

However, I can't deny that this one falls squarely in that category. Even if you are finishing your PhD thesis or making a pass at your potential partner and you put this film on in the background, it will not distract you. If that sounds like reason enough to watch "Gaslight", Disney+ Hotstar is here to help.

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