Films | Ek Thi Daayan – Movie Review

Ek Thi Daayan – Movie Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on April 19, 2013 | No Comments

PRODUCER – Ekta Kapoor, Gaurav Dohru, Vishal Bhardwaj, Rekha Bhardwaj
DIRECTOR – Kannan Iyer
WRITER – Mukul Sharma, Vishal Bhardwaj
CAST – Emraan Hashmi, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kalki Koechlin, Huma Qureshi
MUSIC – Vishal Bharadwaj

Set in the parallel world of witchcraft and wizardry, the film ‘EK Thi Daayan’ spins a yarn of magic, black, white and the conjuring type. Bobo, a successful conjurer par excellence (Emraan Hashmi) is a gifted magician since childhood and is living his chosen vocation with flair until his childhood demons catch up with him.

A long hypnotherapy session unveils a past where an unknown woman Diana (Konkana Sen Sharma) enters his life and grows to become his step-mom only, the episode only to end in the death of his little sister (Sara Arjun) and father (Pavan Malhotra). Diana disappears, but not before etching her memory on the 11 yr old Bobo’s psyche and a promise that she will return. A believer of witchcraft with more than just the innocence of a child, Bobo suspected her to be a witch and continues to believe so as he grows up. Twenty years later it looks like she may be back.

This is the unravelling that makes up all of second half. The entire first half is devoted to Bobo’s past and tryst with Diana and is an interesting and effective set-up, the choice as unconventional as the film in many ways. Huma Qureshi as Tamra, Bobo’s wife and Kalki Koechlin as Lisa, an ardent fan, take up centre stage and the plot thickens to an action-packed and turn-the-tables type of climax that suits the film’s overall ambience.

The film is coloured with a sombre mood resonating the inner doubts and the outer battles that cinematographer Saurabh Goswami seems to have created with a lot of care. It makes up a fine dark world, with its old buildings and shadows, but typically, the ambience is manipulated to suit a convenience than serve authenticity almost seeming fictionalised in more cases than one. However, the tight and engaging narrative coupled with some competent performances ensures that these holes do not become caters. Because the horror, or rather creepy, psychological terror that unfolds is on a far decent and self-respecting plain than most of Bollywood’s horror output.

Especially engaging is the first half, with youngsters Vishesh and Sara helping us remain invested in this play between science and belief, between the adult world’s rationality and a child’s seeming irrationality. The beauty of the film is that the parallel world seeps and merges into the real world with an unassuming alacrity and needs no extra props, of make-up, sets, clothes and such to establish its turf. What seems isn’t and what is isn’t apparent and although the film doesn’t bother to trail much on this duality, the suspense and interest it dredges up with this line of thought is engaging enough till the finishing line.

Along with a subtler expose of the nether-world also comes a rather played down version of reality without its attendant Bollywood-isms. Vishal Bhardwaj and Gulzar’s songs help keep the edge of difference in this not-so-conventional yet not very different film, especially Yaaram and ‘Kaali Kaali’ continue to haunt (pun unintended) much after the credits roll.

As unusual as the story is the film’s casting, pitting all sorts of talents together. All sparkle and shine competently, displaying debutante director Kannan Iyer’s hold over his subject and actors but Konkana Sen Sharma tends to glow a bit more, such is her innate talent. Emraan Hashmi, for whom the horror is no new territory once again proves a dependable lead, keeping the tension of his past haunting him and his belief in his version of reality in a tight balance. Huma Qureshi and Kalki perform with a casual flair, serving their characters completely while maintaining the ever-so-slight balance between truth and pretence.

There are several chinks in the film, a debutante’s touch as well, but there is meat in the craft and thought in the art enough to make a lasting impression. The denouement may seem conventional after a sizzling start but it isn’t out of place in a film where nothing is what it seems. Be it psychological horror or physical creeps, Ek thi Daayan serves both with a controlled hand and less emphasis on CG that makes it a remarkably strong-on-concept film easy to relish. Just that it may not be too suitable for children.

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