Ram Gopal Varma, at one point, was known for realistic gritty fares and horror flicks. Sadly, as time passed, the quality of his films started deteriorating. Yet, he continues to make films at regular intervals. 12 “O” Clock, which releases today, is directed by him and is a horror fest. It stars some talented names but sadly and as expected, the film is a poor show all the way, though it had the potential.
The story of the movie: Gauri (Krishna Gautam) stays in Mumbai with her father Rao (Makarand Deshpande), mother (Divya Jagdale), younger brother (Vishesh) and grandmother in a suburban locality in Mumbai. Rao works as a peon in a government office while Gauri is a college student. One day, she suddenly gets possessed out of nowhere. She then starts behaving strangely. Her family at first assumes that she’s stressed because of her ongoing examinations. However, her behaviour starts getting weird day by day. They approach a doctor (Ali Asgar) but he proves to be ineffective. Then they knock on the doors of a tantrik (Ashish Vidyarthi). But he gets violent with Gauri. Rao and his wife disapprove of his behaviour and leave from his place. Finally, a distressed Rao opens up about his predicament to his employer. The latter recommends Dr Debashish (Mithun Chakraborty), a noted psychiatrist. On the other hand, the city is rocked by a series of serial killings. Inspector Francis Dsouza (Manav Kaul) is given the responsibility of nabbing the culprits.
12 “O” Clock’s first scene is eerie and sets the mood. But soon, the horrible direction, camerawork and even overdramatic performances take away the impact. There are a few scenes which really stand out like the possessed Gauri confronting Sharma Uncle (Sharad Bhutadiya) or how the doctor and his assistant-cum-lover get killed. Even post-interval, a few scenes does arrest attention. But the ending is a complete downer. The solution that the characters come up with for the ghost problem is childish. One couldn’t believe it actually. One hopes that there’ll be more to the film but then the end credits start rolling.
Speaking of performances, Krishna Gautam is the best performer of the film. She is actually not upto the mark in the initial scenes. But in the second half, she rocks the show especially when she is possessed. Mithun Chakraborty appears in just one scene in pre-interval. Post-interval, his contribution is negligible and it’s sad to see such a talented actor reduced to a caricature. Makarand Deshpande hams a lot. Divya Jagdale puts on a fine act. Ashish Vidyarthi leaves a mark despite being there in just two scenes. Ali Asgar plays a bizarre character and is let down by the writing. The last time he was seen in a Hindi film was also a poor horror film, Amavas. Manav Kaul is fine in some scenes but he also overacts at some places. Flora Saini (Francis’s wife) has a fine screen presence. Sharad Bhutadiya is decent. Same goes for Dalip Tahil (Commissioner Rakesh Patnaik). Archak Chhabra (Chandu; Gauri’s boyfriend) is okay and the attempt to make him look like Sudeep was uncalled for. Vishesh and the actors playing Gauri’s grandmother, Dr Debashish’s mother and Doctor’s assistant are nothing great.
M M Keeravani‘s music is loud. Amol Rathod‘s cinematography is horrible. There are too many unwanted long and close shots that hamper the impact. Also, there’s a way of executing the guerrilla style of shot taking which the lensman failed to master. Seshu K M R‘s sound design and audiography spoils the show. Adding eerie noises just about anywhere doesn’t add to the fear. In fact, it makes the goings-on laughable. Also, the film suffers from lip-sync issues. Abhishek Sankhala‘s costumes are realistic. However, making Krishna Gautam wear skimpy clothes in classic RGV style seemed out of place. Aejaz Gulab‘s action is fine. Kamal R‘s editing is not slick.
Ram Gopal Varma‘s story had a lot of promise. A few scenes were well thought of and could have translated well on celluloid at the hands of an able director. But Ram Gopal Varma‘s screenplay makes a mockery of the plot in hand. Ram Gopal Varma‘s dialogues are nothing special.
Ram Gopal Varma‘s direction meanwhile is horrible as expected. A lot of things don’t make sense. The most important question is – why is the film titled 12 “O” Clock? There was no relevance to midnight or noon in the film. If the title was an afterthought, maybe the makers could have added a voiceover somewhere that the killings take place at either 12 PM or 12 AM. Secondly, the characters die randomly in the film. And thirdly, the finale is a big downer. The way Gauri’s parents and others manage to free Gauri from the ghost is unexpected but bad. They should have realized that it’s not a foolproof way and that the ghost can easily jump into someone else’s body.
On the whole, Ram Gopal Varma’s 12 “O” Clock has a great star cast comprising Mithun Chakraborty, Makarand Deshpande, Ashish Vidyarthi, Manav Kaul and Dalip Tahil. Even the basic storyline could have made for a decent horror flick. But RGV’s direction, poor cinematography and over-the-top performances spoil the show. It is released in CINEMAS without any sort of publicity. Hence, it’s bound to sink without a trace.
My rating – ** out of 5!