If you have seen the trailers of Ek Thi Daayan, you’d have noticed that the film has a different set of aesthetics than normal clićhed Hindi horror or supernatural films. Although, frankly speaking, when you have films like Raaz, Raaz 2 and Raaz 3 and the old Ramsey Brothers films as your competition, you don’t need to do a lot to set the bar higher. Having said that, let’s delve deeper into the film.
Story: You cannot describe the film’s story without giving away a few of the spoilers. The film is about India’s most famous magician Bobo (played by Emraan Hashmi) and how his life takes a turn for the unknown thanks to the menacing interference of a Daayan (witch) who has connections to his childhood. Giving away who plays the daayan would be a disservice I would not like to commit to everyone. Let’s just say that the three women in Bobo’s life – Tamara (Huma Qureshi), Lisa (Kalki Koechlin) and Diana (Konkona Sen Sharma), all have an important part to play in the proceedings on the screen.
The screenplay is interspersed with flashbacks and hallucinations and even dreams. Thankfully enough, all those storytelling elements merge seamlessly into the story and this makes for a pretty lucid film for majority of the film. The screenplay falters when the writers (Kannan Iyer and Mukul Sharma) try to bring in every possible angle into the film that they can. It results in a rather disjointed few minutes when you expect it to flow freely at such a crucial point in the film. Nonetheless, the writers deserve credit for treating the subject in a largely logical manner and not resorting to clićhes like involving religion, taantrik and other drivel like that. An amusing fact is the co-writer Mukul Sharma who is a man of science (he was a Maths columnist) has written this unscientific film.
Ek Thi Daayan Movie Review
Direction and Miscellaneous: Much through the first half of the film, it becomes hard to believe that this is Kannan Iyer’s debut as a feature film diretor. He deftly handles the film’s supernatural aspects and gets fine performances from all (yes, ALL) of the actors. The aesthetics of the film are classy and it should have remained that way till the end. Kannan deals the wrong hand when it comes to the ending and goes into commercial mode. The climax is plain lazy and resorts to the clićhes which made the film look promisingly different for the previous 15 reels.
The cinematography by Saurabh Goswami creates a spooky ambience which is what a film of this genre required. The creative imagery is particularly visible when two child actors high five each other when their torchlights. The sets lend this film a high brow creepy mood and the lighting further accentuates with the non-generic sets and cinematography. The visual effects done by Prana Studios are surprisingly first rate.
Music and Background Score: The music as is expected from a Vishal Bharadway soundtrack is different. Nobody will go in to see the film expecting a generic Emraan Hashmi soundtrack and those expectations work in it’s favour. Although, the songs are perfectly alright, you tend to wonder after the film if Kannan could have done away with the songs altogether. Clinto Cerejo has been making a mark with his background scores lately and here again he delivers an appropriately spooky soundtrack.
Acting: Emraan Hashmi’s career has taken an 180° turnaround lately with him choosing offbeat and slight less commercial films. In ‘Ek Thi Daayan’ he does a splendid job playing the disturbed Bobo whose past comes back to menace him. The image change that started with ‘Shanghai’ continues here. Among the three female actors, Konkona Sen Sharma steals the show. She plays Diana with the required zeal and her mannerisms can unsettle the faint of heart. Her presence makes the film a lot better. Huma Qureshi plays Tamara pretty well. Her relationship with Bobo has just the right amount of earnest urbane equation which was required. Kalki plays the most unusual character of the film (Lisa) with a freightening quality. She excels in her part. The child actor Vishal Tiwari who plays the child Bobo is one of the best things about this film. He is top notch. Pawan Malhotra and Rajatava Dutta are so very good in their respective roles. None of the actors are miscast in Ek Thi Daayan and that itself raises the film’s quality.
Conclusion: Inspite of the hiccups in the second half and the intrepid climax, the film is well worth a watch for the different style of telling a story about witchcraft and folklore. But, what is frustrating about the film is that it could have been so much more than what it turned out be. The flaws are subdued by the great performances and the spooky cinematography. Don’t let your expectations zoom up too much and you might like ‘Ek Thi Daayan’. Go for it.Rating:
Review by Zayden