20 Apr 2013

Movie Review: Ek Thi Daayan: One arresting hour, rest ho-hum..

The best horror films have always dwelled on our fear of the unknown and on building up a believable, vague legend within which the spooky parts prey on our fear and imagination.

Bobo (Emraan Hashmi, good act) is a famous magician who hides a grave secret from his childhood concerning the death of his father (Pavan Malhotra, a steal) and sister within him. His girlfriend Tamara (Huma Qureshi, decent) is worried of Bobo's state, even as the couple plan to adopt a boy. Bobo is caught between belief and illusion, much like his magic tricks and employs the help of the family psychiatrist (Rajatava Dutta, apt addition) who hypnotizes Bobo to retell his childhood trauma that features the mysterious, teasingly named Diana (Konkona Sen Sharma, bewitching).    

The childhood connect gives us a fresh, ominous first half. As soon as adulthood resurfaces, and the same devastating events of the first hour reoccur with the appearance of Lisa Dutt (Kalki Koechlin, understated charm), the effect mitigates to redundancy.

All the yarn of myth spun early is used as props to spring surprises in the climax, an attempt that falls flat because of its convenience in arriving at an end. None of the 'jack in the boxes' are accounted for or hinted at, reducing the film's intended punch to a tickle. 

Yet in totality, Ek Thi Daayan is a good attempt in the horror genre without escapist gore or cheap thrills. It has good to splendid performances, consistent direction, characterization, and special effects that provide the story much needed conviction. A word in for the child artists who play the young Bobo (Visheh Tiwari) and his sister. Worth a watch.

The now legendary Vishal Bharadwaj / Gulzar combine does a couple of hummable numbers - Yaaram and the playful Totte Ud Gaye. The choreographed sequences in the latter is individually watchable as a music video, but doesn't go with the film genre.