A photo of a smiling Terry-Thomas made an unexpected appearance and spooked this reviewer while watching comedic horror film Peechhay Tau Dekho (PTD).

When I was a kid, Terry-Thomas left a chilling mark on my memory as the villain in George Pal’s 1958 adaptation of Tom Thumb, which also starred Peter Sellers and Russ Tamblyn. Seeing Terry-Thomas’ smiling face out of the blue made me jump out of my seat.

It was the second (of possibly three) times that director Syed Atif Ali’s film managed to make an effective scare. As far as genre comparisons go, PTD leaps scare Stree and Roohi – two movies in the same vein, but with much bigger budgets and better scripts.

The PTD director once directed The Divine Pari – a film that asks you to believe that a dead child can be demonically reincarnated by its mother because she had a hardcover book of demons on a shelf in their house. .

In Syed Atif Ali’s Peechhay Tau Dekho, the comedy works most of the time, but the story could use another rewrite

In comparison, PTD stands head and shoulders above Pari. The story – about two losers who beat up a local hoodlum’s brother-in-law after a late night cricket match in their alley and took refuge in a haunted house – has a pretty good idea with a good amount of awami with an almost impromptu sound Humor (mass) that dates back to the era of Umar Sharif theater.

Comedy works most often. However, the story could use another rewrite.

Zulfi (Yasir Hussain) and Teepu (Aadi Adyel) are two good-for-nothings with a penchant for bumping into ghouls and ghosts. Escaping from a churrail (the specter of a woman, not a witch) and then djinn in a loud pre-title sequence, the two trigger the wrath of mobster Phool Maachi (Aamir Qureshi) and escape to a well-known haunted place. house in Hyderabad, Sindh (where the film is set). The dwelling is known as the place “where people go in and the corpses go out”. The house also has a secret treasure chest, but the plot completely overlooks this aspect.

In this dark and forbidden house lives Rani (Waqar Hussain) – a transgender woman and the object of a very uncomfortable humor – who offers them sanctuary but forbids them from entering a room.

Fools who see specters, their own doppelgangers, and even get scolded by the house’s former gardener, they enter the forbidden room and find, among dozens of clocks running backwards, two girls dressed in white on a swing.

Not one to heed red flags, Zulfi and Teepu fall in love with the girls we learn are named Shabnam and Mumtaz (Sara Ali, Nawal Saeed).

Shabnam likes poetry and Mumtaz likes songs. They both carry an air of the 70s, which the film eventually goes back to, to introduce the actual plot. From a slapstick horror-comedy, PTD now becomes a mystery about love, heartbreak and murder, involving a man named Nadeem (Junaid Akhter).

The transition from a carefree comedy of bumbling idiots to a drama of doom is pretty seamless. However, the seams stand out in other areas.

The story needs a lot of precision. Zulfi and Teepu’s shenanigans start repeating themselves way too often in the first 30 minutes, and the mystery aspect of the story is expected to kick in sooner. The premise also needs a much more malevolent omnipresence in the house as an actual antagonist.

At two o’clock, the PTD is half an hour too long. A shorter runtime and a rewrite that would cut sequences and tie loose story elements together would have made the film a better experience.

As far as performances go, Yasir and Aadi are, in fact, set to play the recurring lead roles in this horror-comedy franchise – if PTD pulls it off. They have the chemistry and the timing to make it work. Aamir Qureshi is fine, as is his character’s nephew played by Shariq Mehmood. The film, however, belongs to Waqar Hussain and his somewhat multi-layered performance as Rani.

If Zulfi and Teepu return for a sequel, they should also bring Rani (and a tighter story). PTD could very well be a franchise, who knows.

Produced by Eveready Pictures in association with ScreenShots and 3H Vision Productions, published by Eveready, Peechhay Tau Dekho is hitting theaters. Except for a few jokes and some unresolved story threads that have you scratching your head, there’s nothing wrong with the movie.

Posted in Dawn, ICON, June 19, 2022

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