Ek Thi Daayan (Hindi)
Director: Kannan Iyer
Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kalki Koechlin, Huma Qureshi, Pavan Malhotra
Once the go-to guy for giving literature a fresh lease of life on celluloid, Vishal Bhardwaj is fast losing it. No doubt, he has a way with witches. Remember Makdi ? But those were different days. Now, the pressure of turning honest little tales into big budget products is showing. As writer-producer this time, he turns a tale that is perhaps meant for kids into one for adults.
He did something similar in 7 Khoon Maaf . There the overwritten darkish second half spoilt the appeal of Ruskin Bond’s simple novella; here the overstretched and rather dumb second half takes away the fun from Murali Sharma’s short story. As a result we, once again, get a film which is curiously spooky to begin with but ends up silly.
Drawing from folklore, the storyline propagates stereotypes like wicked stepmothers and witches storing their power in their long tresses. Enough substance to excite the Ramsays, but then Vishal knows more than a thing or two about how to package the puerile. So as the other-worldly presence begins to look plausible, debutant director Kannan Iyer unleashes his bag of tricks. Cool metaphors abound. The road to hell is shown as full of potholes…a contemporary reality! Add to it Vishal’s moody music and performances competent enough to keep you glued to your seat.
But the joys don’t last. When the disclaimer says it is not intended to promote witchcraft we buy it. The atmospherics — vintage Vishal — do raise hopes but then become self-conscious. The potholes of hell find their way into the script.
Magician Bobo (Emraan Hashmi) finds it difficult to come to terms with his troubled childhood where he lost his sister and father (Pavan Malhotra is solid as ever) in mysterious circumstances after stepmom, Diana (Konkona Sen Sharma) comes home.
Now Bobo has a girlfriend (Huma Qureshi) and they have adopted a child. The film livens up when Bobo regresses into his past with the help of a psychiatrist friend, but when it comes to the present and director Iyer opens his tight fist, you get nothing but thin air. The entry of Kalki Koechlin again raises your hope, alas in vain.
The writers seem to have given the witch a weapon that doesn’t entail a bloodbath. She apparently uses ultrasound waves to but somehow in the climax she is desperate to use a knife. Emraan Hashmi doesn’t have much to challenge him, but the girls revel in the atmospherics. Huma Qureshi does a good job and the talentedKoechlin is short-changed by the script. Returning after a sabbatical, Konkona Sen Sharma manages to give you goose-bumps with those deep dark eyes. Unfortunately, she gets just a plait to play with as after the intermission you like to revoke the creative licence that you granted Iyer in the first half.