Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

May 20, 2011

Mind games

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 11:13 pm

May 20, 2011

Cast: Rajvvir Aroraa, Imaad Shah, Nishikant Kamath, Tisca Chopra, Satish Kaushik

Director: Prawaal Raman

404, directed by Prawaal Raman, is the third film in three weeks that features the spirit of a dead person as a prominent character.

Set on a medical campus, this psychological thriller stars newcomer Rajvvir Aroraa as Abhimanyu, a freshman who stands up against the harsh ragging meted out to younger students at the hands of college seniors. When campus bully Chris (played by Imaad Shah) disregards Abhimanyu’s complaints and continues to harass the juniors, our young hero decides to move into Room 404 of the college hostel. This room has remained locked since a student committed suicide inside a few years ago. Rejecting his friends’ theories that the room is haunted, and insisting that he doesn’t believe in ghosts and spirits, Abhimanyu earns the respect of the visiting psychology professor (played by Nishikant Kamath) who encourages him to falsify these supernatural stories. But as the ragging only intensifies, Abhimanyu finds himself being visited by the spirit of the room’s last occupant, leaving him to question what is real and what is imagined.

Ominously shot, but without the standard tropes of bad horror films, 404 unfolds a little too lazily for its own good. Director Prawaal Raman relies heavily on atmospherics and gives us a moody thriller for the most part, till too much dialoguebaazi undoes all the good. There is some nice understated acting too, but the film never succeeds in spooking you out completely because of its overbearing background score.

I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for director Prawaal Raman’s 404. It’s tense and eerily treated; and it almost works.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. We don’t use word ‘freshman’ sarr…just don’t like hollywood hangover.

    Comment by PS — May 22, 2011 @ 2:23 am

  2. Dear Rajeev,

    I admire your reviews, most of the times, and almost always find them useful for movie planning. You along with Anupama Chopra, have raised the bar on movie reviews on Television. And its good there is competition amongst you, to keep the quality high. I normally make it a point to catch your reviews every week (hate it when because of the stupid IPL matches, the program is not telecast at the usual time). Also great to note your website, I can come here directly.

    Now coming to the point. I saw 404 yesterday, along with wife, night show. And was stunned by it. Can’t understand in the world, why you would rate it so low. Your review is not fair for the movie – and is rather ‘safe’.

    I have been catching on all the English movies this year (from King’s Speech and other Oscar winning stuff to averages like Adjustment Bureau). And I can say with confidence that this movie was as thrilling as the best of the Hollywood fair we have seen this year.

    Only ‘Shor in the city’ matched the quality, which you deservedly gave 4 (Again ‘Challo Dilli’ deserved a better rating). The hall in PVR, Bangalore, was almost full, for the night show, and the audience kept sitting, stunned, as the titles rolled by.

    I found, the acting brilliant by the guy who plays Prof. and by the guy who plays Abhimanyu. Imaad Shah, was a bit ‘too much’ like Naseer. He is clearly gifted. But I don’t want to be reminded of Naseer, in each and every dialog. Get over that ‘thahrao’ bit. And don’t over use the voice quality.

    So back to the point. I can’t remember a hindi movie, in the horror genre, with a story/script of this high quality. The drama was as tense, as in ‘Lincoln Lawyer’. The horror bit, was very consistent, and brilliantly underplayed. As with all good horror movies, the mystery was in the script. I could find only one loop hole in the movie. But stating it here, will spoil the movie, for those who have not seen it.

    The reason, I am taking time out, to craft this comment, is because I care for brilliant movies. We have so much of ‘star’ powered non-sense doled on us continuously. It is movies like these, which need to be reviewed more carefully. Or perhaps, may be reviewed ‘spontaneously’. The other time, I had similar disagreements, was by your review of ‘Once upon a time in Mumbai’. That movie was again, brilliant and enjoyable in its own way. [So I would give a 3.5 star to both of them. The extra point, can make whole lot of difference to the movie box office faring.]

    So keep writing your good reviews. I hope to remain a fan of your reviews. And I don’t think, I need to clarify, that my intentions are noble, and I don’t have any connections with the producer(s) of the movie.

    Self proclaimed movie hacker

    Comment by movie_hacker — May 24, 2011 @ 10:56 am

  3. Cant help but admire the way how the self proclaimed movie hacker has penned his thoughts….just awesome..
    U should think abt writing reviews too…I second your opinion about the movie…It was an novice cast with some exemplary acting by the professor (specially the climax) and good acting by the Imad and rajveer arora.
    It is a sad truth that such movies go unnoticed and movie buffs like us have to endure movies like bodygaurd,raone bcos of its star value.

    Rajeev sir ,the movie deserves definitely more dan 2nd half stars…u def cannot see raone and 404 in the same light…

    Comment by Vinod — February 8, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

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