Chhorii Trailer Scares up a Nightmare Folktale

When I scour the internet weekly for upcoming releases to tell all of you about, I see a hefty amount of trailers for Indian-made films. Bollywood films seem easy to dismiss in this country, but no one should be above a good story no matter where it originates. I’d argue some are utterly fantastic in scope and spectacle alone. Chhorii got me excited. Coming to Prime Video next week, Chhorii looks better than any of the Welcome to the Blumhouse films the streaming service premiered last month, offering a folktale with ardent depth and a few chilling moments in just the trailer.  

Chhorii tells the story of a pregnant woman named Sakshi (Nushrratt Bharuccha) and her beau Hemant (Saurabh Goyal), who are run out of the city by the weight of financial problems and persistent creditors. Seeking solace, the couple takes refuge in a home in the middle of a sugarcane field, but their momentary escape becomes anything but a simple getaway. Inquiring about an empty room in the back of the house, Sakshi begins seeing the ghosts of children, as well as the charred revenant of a woman she believes is after her unborn baby. Her private home-away-from-home soon becomes a maze she has trouble escaping. 

The poster for Chhorii
Image courtesy of Amazon Prime Video

Possibly developing its field phobia from films like Stephen King’s Children of the Corn and In the Tall GrassChhorii frightens us with the claustrophobic nature of what can’t be seen and the irony of not wanting to be found. This alone draws me into the premise of the film. At the same time, the vulnerability of Sakshi and her unborn child helps keep tensions high in an already terrifying situation. What particularly spoke to me though, was the scare tactic used in the trailer’s reveal of the charred woman at the end. Director Vishal Furia’s making the viewer expect a scare from the abundant negative space to the left of the frame made me jump several inches out of my chair as the scare surprises from the right. It’s impressive how affective that illusionary tactic is, simply being drawn to look at the wrong hand. 

When I first looked up the meaning of the film’s title, the direct translation was simply “girl,” the context of which may make sense to the film’s pregnant protagonist, but the answer didn’t exactly satisfy my question. On a hunch, I looked up Chuṛail/Churel on Wikipedia. Having encountered the creature while watching last year’s Black Lake, the idea occurred to me that Sakshi could be fighting this demonic force that inhabits women, especially as the tale is told throughout Asia, often with suppressive connotations towards women. Black Lake’s use of a similarly red-dressed woman seemed like a reasonable guess compounded with the YouTube synopsis of Sakshi and Hemant being a “modern, young couple” against a churail’s unwillingness to conform to traditional standards. Though it seemed to fit, I couldn’t find anything to make this more than a speculation, even with similar themes, words, and wardrobes.

However, in a 19th-century publication called North Indian Notes and Queries, Volume 3-4, I found a passage about an old children’s game called chhori-chhora. The game involves at least two players, one asking the others to guess whose house they’re thinking of based on the number of children that live there. If the child said, “Chhora-Chhora-Chhori,” then this would mean two boys and a girl lived in the house they were thinking of. If one of the others knew the household in question, they then have to carry the inquisitor to the house piggyback style and ask the inhabiting wife, “Above-above or above-below,” and based on her answer, stay the same or change places on the way back. Based on the trailer’s use of children’s games, this might be a mystery hidden in the title, and if not, it’s some free trivia.  

Chhorii is a Hindi remake of Furia’s 2017 Marathi film Lapachhapi, which took home the Spirit Award at the Brooklyn International Film Festival in 2016. Lapachhapi translates to “Hide and Seek” in English, and another reason I think the title of this film could hold some importance. 

Chhorii will have its world premiere at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) on November 25 before becoming available to stream on Amazon Prime Video the next day, November 26.  

So what do you think of the trailer for Chhorii? Do you agree with Sean that it looks better than the Welcome to the Blumhouse films last month? How do you think this folktale will play out? Let us know in the comments! And if you’re looking for more trailers, we’ve got you covered:

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Written by Sean Parker

Living just outside of Boston, Sean has always been facinated by what horror can tell us about contemporary society. He started writing music reviews for a local newspaper in his twenties and found a love for the art of thematic and symbolic analysis. Sean joined Horror Obsessive at it's inception, and is currently the site's Creative Director. He produces and edits the weekly Horror Obsessive podcast for the site as well as his interviews with guests. He has recently started his foray into feature film production as well, his credits include Alice Maio Mackay's Bad Girl Boogey, Michelle Iannantuono's Livescreamers, and Ricky Glore's upcoming Troma picture, Sweet Meats.

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