The lesson to be learned from Phoonk is: be very careful about whom you hire and be even more careful about firing them because you never know which disgruntled employee might turn out to be a black magic queen. Phoonk is about Rajeev, an affluent, educated man who doesn't believe in God or superstitions. But after he fires two employees for cheating him, his life gets ferociously creepy. For one, his young daughter starts to talk like a man and at one point, she even levitates off the bed. Eventually, Rajeev sees the error of his non-believing ways and goes to a blind baba, who armed with three prongs and a fierce silver ring, literally sniffs out the culprits and helps Rajeev to defeat them. Director Ram Gopal Varma has effectively tackled horror before in Bhoot. In that film, he imbued everyday things like elevators and Mumbai high rises with a sense of dread so even the normal seemed scary. Phoonk is the exact opposite. Varma strains to create dread by placing his camera at weird angles, repeatedly trying to make stuffed toys look ominous and he even goes for the horror film cliché of an evil crow as sentinel. It's cheap, B-grade horror, basically Ramsay with a bigger budget. Varma doesn't use his lead actress very efficiently either. Children can be superbly scary because that's precisely what we least expect them to be. In films like The Exorcist, The Omen and more recently, The Orphanage, little kids have successfully made us scream. But poor Ehsaas Channa, who plays the possessed kid here, is saddled with an infantile script. Of course Varma propagates black magic and blind superstition in Phoonk but in my book, his worse offense is that he doesn't either scare or entertain us. At the end of the film, the blind baba declares: Har cheez ka jawab nahin hota. Indeed. So with every Ram Gopal Varma film, we are doomed to keep asking, what happened to the director who gave us Rangeela, Satya and Company. Phoonk is tedious mumbo-jumbo. If you want a good fright, rent The Exorcist instead.