Films | Aatma – Movie Review

Aatma – Movie Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on March 21, 2013 | No Comments

PRODUCER – Kumar Mangat Pathak, Abhishek Pathak
DIRECTOR – Suparn Verma
WRITER – Suparn Verma, (Screenplay & Dialogues), Sudarshana Dwivedi (Dialogues)
CAST – Bipasha Basu, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Doyel Dhawan, Shernaz Patel, Tilottama Shome
MUSIC – Sangeet Haldipur, Siddharth Haldipur

The aqua blue graphic novel-like posters alerted us to feel it around us. ‘Aatma’, the Bipasha-Basu-Nawazuddin Siddique horror thriller is quite atmospheric to that extent.

Dipped in a cold blue-grey and green palette, the film is an emotional horror film that ties up love and diabolical obsession to produce the fear. It jumps right into the story without preamble and shows us single mother Maya (Bipasha Basu) and her daughter Nia (Doyel Dhawan) grappling with the absence of Abhay (Nawazuddin Siddique). A troubled Maya wishes to keep something secret while the little Nia pines for her dad and soon begins to speak to him. This terrifies Maya because Abhay, as is soon revealed (and as the trailers show) is already dead. A spate of ugly incidents involving Nia and Maya draw up warring sides with only one agenda at the heart of it, who will Nia stay with and where, in the world or the dead.

There is a distinct coldness in the tones of the film, with the cinematographer Sophie Winqvist keeping a uniformly frosty atmosphere. That works well for the film that depends on lesser gore and shocks and more on psychological terror. There is an earnest effort to keep the head of the much-maligned genre above the water with less emphasis on gimmicks and more on mood.

Yet, all earnestness apart, the film is a tad too single-note and monotonous in building drama for lasting effect. The emotional curve that starts off with considerable tension unfortunately never peaks, even in the final act where the stakes are as high. Events run into each other with a strange hastiness, without helping us register their actual import. Without characterization or more than a one-line back story, it all ends up seeming a little half-baked.

The film does boast of a stellar cast, borrowing most of its artistes from the pantheon of performers than just ‘names’. Shiv Subramaniam and Tillottama Shome appear in cameos as Maya’s protective father and Nia’s strict teacher with little to do that complements their talent. Jaideep Ahlawat, most memorable as Shahid Khan in Gangs of Wasseypur makes a capable police officer refreshingly minus the posturing. Shernaz Patel is lovable in her role as the loving mother and little Doyel Dhawan is charmingly cute even when saddled with a typical sing-song child-speak.

The lead pair is an unusual pairing, and it isn’t milked to a distinct advantage except evoking the curiosity of watching two very distinct talents pitted against each other. Something about Bipasha Basu makes her very convincing in strong woman roles and she plays her role of single mother, who is also a victim of domestic abuse with conviction. Yet, despite being at the centre of the film, she is unable to explore the myriad emotions or shades that go with her character. Nawazuddin, however, shines even in a small role. He portrays the diabolical and homicidal Abhay with a dark finesse and never lets it go down into caricature.

Completely song-less except the haunting title track, the film banks hugely on an extremely emphatic background score that is more forceful than creepy. Aatma is imbued with adequate seriousness and sincerity to thrill and chill but it simply isn’t able to make us feel it around us as much as it would want.

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