<p>Actor Dileep Rao never had to pay his dues in indie and low-budget films. In his first two years as a cinematic actor, he landed roles in two of the biggest films of the 2000s, "Avatar" (2009...
The Indian star was thrilled when Christopher Nolan agreed to meet with him to discuss the role of Yusuf in the movie, but he had to use his Bollywood success to make it to the audition on time after his assistant's in-car global positioning system failed and they found themselves lost in Los Angeles.
He recalls, "I had only 10 minutes... Suddenly I saw an Indian taxi driver... I waved down the taxi driver and I said in Hindi, 'I am Anil Kapoor, the actor from India. Please take me to this place.' I left Brittany (assistant) there.
"I did not get the role, but I was on time. And I got the autograph... I wanted him (Nolan) to sign my DVD of Batman."
Dileep Rao eventually landed the role of Yusuf.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT?
Christine has a doting boyfriend a good job and much promise until she refuses to extend the overdue home loan of Mrs. Ganush a strange one-eyed Gypsy woman who literally begs to keep her residence of 30 years. The ambitious Christine doesn’t budge and the woman unleashes the horrendous curse of the Lamia on the unsuspecting banker turning her life into hell on Earth. When she goes to a psychic to reverse the curse her entire existence is turned upside down becoming a living nightmare with no light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
WHO’S IN IT?
As Christine Alison Lohman gets to chew the scenery like there’s no tomorrow. Living an actor’s dream Lohman gets under the skin of this wickedly cursed girl and gives it her all in one harrowing sequence after another. Justin Long has the standard thankless role of her understanding but perplexed and confused boyfriend. Playing it straight he basically stands on the sidelines watching his girlfriend go slowly mad. As Christine’s boss David Paymer is all business while Dileep Rao as the all-knowing seer Christine turns to in her most dire time of need is quite effective in a handful of scenes. Stealing the show lock stock and barrel though is unquestionably the veteran TV character actress Lorna Raver who is aptly named Mrs. Ganush she is stark-raving mad. The character is blissfully over-the-top (and then some) and Raver under mounds of scary-as-hell makeup hits it out of the park.
Returning to his celebrated roots in horror Spider-Man director Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead) is clearly in his comfort zone as he delivers one of the best examples of the genre seen in many years. Although some CGI trickery and puppetry is employed to full effect Raimi manages to get his best jolts with expert use of camera angles creeping shadows blowing wind strong visual flourishes amped up sound effects and a brilliantly vivid musical score from Christopher Young. Raimi shows today’s purveyors of “torture porn” you don’t need graphic violence to scare the crap out of an audience — just talent. Hitchcock would have approved.
The PG-13 rating probably forced Raimi’s hand in turning on the juice and REALLY dragging us through hell in a couple of scenes so we’re hoping there’s an uncut DVD special edition coming along eventually.
There are many to choose from including a classic dinner scene with the boyfriend’s parents but for pure intensity the initial bank and parking garage encounter between Lohman and Raver has lots of teeth (so to speak) and is still sending chills down our spine. Also the creepy use of a "nosey" fly pays dividends through the entire film for the ultimate audience freakout.
NETFLIX OR MULTIPLEX?
Drag yourself to a multiplex. A fright flick that is this much fun deserves to be seen in a packed theater.
<p>Actor Dileep Rao never had to pay his dues in indie and low-budget films. In his first two years as a cinematic actor, he landed roles in two of the biggest films of the 2000s, "Avatar" (2009) and "Inception" (2010). Rao came from a highly educated background; his mother was a physicist, his father an engineer, and his sister taught economics at New York University. Rao was born in Los Angeles on July 29, 1973, though he spent parts of his childhood in Saudi Arabia and Colorado. He originally planned on becoming a surgeon, but rather than going to medical school, he chose to pursue an advanced degree at the American Conservatory Theatre, joining a graduating class featuring Elizabeth Banks and Anna Belknap. After graduating, Rao took to the California stage, performing in regional theatrical productions, beginning with the American debut of Tom Stoppard's "India Ink." Rao certainly didn't forget his intellectual background; on June 7, 2002, Rao won a whopping $34,400 on Jeopardy. After landing a couple small TV appearances, Rao was cast in his first cinematic role in James Cameron's "Avatar," which went on to become the most commercially successful film of all time. Rao played Dr. Max Patel, a scientist with a conscience stationed on the fictional planet of Pandora. In 2009, Rao played a modern psychic in "Drag Me To Hell" (2009), director Sam Raimi's much hyped return to low-budget horror. In 2010, Rao appeared in Christopher Nolan's "Inception," playing the chemist whose concoctions enabled entrance into the dream world.</p>
University of California, San Diego
American Conservatory Theater
Rao's mother was a physicist, his father an engineer.
The films Rao has been in have an extremely high box office average-$1.2 billion worldwide.