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Ek Thi Daayan builds at a good pace and takes the proceedings to a great peak at mid-time. Unfortunately, it goes only down after interval. Yet, there are a few genuine scares and good performances. A casual DVD watch.
I wonder if a ghost/witch story is, by default, a good vs. evil (pun intended) story. Ek Thi Daayan tries to underline it further, if possible. The able cast and gripping first hour, unfortunately, can't do much for the dwindling, unwieldy second hour. Yet, it is not your typical Hindi horror film, it does manage to get you nervous a few times.
The first half has a lovely build-up indeed. It is interesting to see the creative interpretation of a child. I also loved the way it keeps you hanging between a child's imagination and that you don't want to believe it. Even so, a connect with the characters is missing. You don't know why you are supposed to feel for this cool magician who seems to be disturbed by some hallucinations. You don't know why you should care for this couple.
The backstory comes, but a little too late for you to go back and have feelings for the characters. Also, whatever emotional attachment you are made to have is more because there are children whose safety is involved. But, that doesn't last too long.
Yet, you are gripped by the situation in the backstory. Another major contributor to keeping you rooted to your seat is the cast. All the main leads from the kids to Emraan Hashmi perform well. Can't say the same about the supporting actors, especially Pawan Malhotra or Rajatava Dutta. The kids on the other hand Vishesh Tiwari who plays the young Bobo (Emraan Hashmi) and his younger sister behave like children would and that is always refreshing to see in our films.
Thankfully, there is one thing you come out with and it is Konkana Sen Sharma's haunting face. As much credit to the makeup and special effects department as it to her naturally beautiful eyes and her use of them. Emraan Hashmi gets to play the quintessential spooked out guy, in this horror film. So he gets spooked, alright. Huma Qureshi has a more or less plain role and does whatever little she can do with it. Kalki Koechlin has the smallest roles of them all, but she creates an intrigue about herself that is consistent.
The inconsistency is all reserved for the last hour of the film which comes with random songs and even worse twists. At the end of the film, there are few sub-plots that make you wonder why they found a place in the film at all. On the other hand, there are some themes that are touched upon but left half-done, like a child's dreamy world, or the struggle between good and bad or logic and faith.
And as is usual with all horror films, why don't witches and ghosts go directly for the kill, instead of trying to warm their subject up to themselves or killing random people associated with subject rather than the subject themselves.
In that sense then, Ek Thi Daayan is like any other horror film. Thankfully, it varies from them in that it tries to stay clear of the standard mechanisms of horrifying - loud background score, etc. It also does creep you every once in a while. If only, the climax was at interval point.
- meetu, a part of the audience
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