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Review Hindi

Kaali Khuhi review: Bringing out the horrific in the practice of female infanticide

Release Date: 30 Oct 2020 / 01hr 30min

Cinestaan Rating

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Sukhpreet Kahlon

Terrie Samundra's film delivers a potent and moving social message while also being a satisfying horror thriller.

What if the murdered could exact their revenge on their victimizers? What havoc would be unleashed then? Terrie Samundra’s deeply unsettling and eerie film focuses on the evil social practice of female infanticide. Starring Shabana Azmi, Sanjeeda Sheikh, Riva Arora and Satyadeep Misra, the horror film is available on Netflix.

A young girl, Shivangi (Arora), sees odd things. After her father Darshan (Mishra) gets word that his mother is unwell, the family rushes to their ancestral village in Punjab to be by her side. But hers is no ordinary malady, and the family quickly finds itself out of its depth as the villagers' past deeds are unearthed and the chickens come home to roost. As things start to spiral out of control, Shivangi must save her family and the village from the restless spirit who seeks retribution.

With its socio-political commentary on the practice of female infanticide, Samundra creates a rooted setting for the unfolding of this film. It begins by propelling us right to the heart of the theme when an incident occurs in the village. This lone incident grows to become a malaise in the cursed village, consuming all in its path. The elders of the village, who sacrifice one girl child after another must finally pay for what they have done.  

Kaali Khuhi’s imagery is spot-on: the wintry misty fields, the well at the edge of the village and the superstitions of the villagers are all woven together along with the tropes of the horror genre as the mounting tension and perversion of everyday activities sucks us into the vortex of dark deeds committed by the people in the village.

The film powerfully communicates the horror of female infanticide and the heartbreaking way in which girl after girl has been sacrificed at the altar of patriarchy. Azmi’s character of the Maasi symbolises the guilt of female perpetrators of patriarchy.

What truly makes Samundra’s film stand out from most films in the genre is that she manages to convey the righteous anger and the anguish of the spirit with agonising tenderness.

There are a few plot holes and moments where knowledge about totems and esoteric practices is assumed. The performances too are a bit uneven and one is left with a few loose threads as the explanation comes in dribs and drabs. However, the make-up, production design and cinematography with a subdued colour palette create a chilling ambience. 

As this is a Netflix offering and all of us will be watching it on a relatively small computer or television screen, one cannot help but bemoan not being able to watch this film on the big screen.

Kaali Khuhi delivers a potent and moving social message but along with this, it’s also a satisfying horror thriller. This film will stay with you for a while.

Netflix is now streaming Kaali Khuhi.


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