For those who expect a whole lot of oomph to be crammed into this thriller, there's bad news. Pakistani import Meera's Bollywood debut proves her to be a competent actress. But she doesn't have the quality that could have elevated the film's mass acceptance level.
"Nazar" is a poor man's - or woman's - version of this week's other film "Naina". The director's loose grip over her plot is matched by an absence of technical wherewithal in the story.
All through the longish drama we are treated to the protagonist's purportedly eerie hallucinations. Yup. Like Urmila Matondkar in "Naina", Meera can 'see' the dead before they die. Too bad she doesn't get us involved in the way the other film does. The fault lies not so much with the central performance as the failure of the director to create an ambience conducive to constant fear and foreboding.
There are too many destructive distractions. At one point in the second-half she runs out of plot and takes the lead couple for a song under the waterfall.
The plot never re-surfaces from the watery diversion. Though debutant director Soni Razdan doesn't apply brakes in the narrative for a song or a comic romp, she constantly keeps putting the characters into crises that seem complex from above but are pretty absurd in close-up.
The four main characters, an actress (Meera), a cop (Ashmit Patel with hair almost as lengthy as the narrative, the cop's colleague (Koel Puri, squinting her eyes into a Chinese grimace) and a doctor (Aly Khan).
The storytelling is pale and uninviting. The zero chemistry between the lead pair makes matters worse. While Meera looks a lot larger than Ashmit Patel, he walks around looking more like a drum player in a garage rock band than a cop. Given a crisis, she'd probably protect him instead of vice versa.
The tentative scene-stealer is the talented Koel Puri who struggles to invest a semblance of intelligence into a film that's structured like a de-escalating whodunit. Throughout we sense a catastrophe far beyond the immediate crisis, namely the serial killing of beer-bar dancers.
"Ha, serial killings happen only in Hollywood films," scoffs senior cop Avtar Gill.
They sure do, and far more professionally. The build-up and the denouement in "Nazar" are amateurish enough to make the next episode of the long-running TV series "CID" look like Hitchcock's "Psycho".
A serious psychological subtext is lacking in "Nazar". There is an attempt to introduce 'issues' such as the plight of beer-bar dancers and the HIV virus into the plot. But the narrative just doesn't seem to support ideas that go beyond the shallow slasher aspirations of the product.
Watch out for Gujarati stage actress Sarita Joshi in one sequence and Neena Gupta's sufiyana qawwali. They both go over-the-top. But no sweat. Self-control isn't one of this film's primary virtues.