Movies

‘Durgamati —The Myth’ review: Bhumi Pednekar can’t save this uninviting concoction of stale tropes

Bhumi Pednekar in ‘Durgamati’  

For a horror movie, Durgamati - The Myth is hilarious. It exudes unintentionally, a unique brand of comedy where you find yourself laughing at the raconteur, but not for his witticisms. The bouts of guffawing that one finds oneself suppressing while watching it is a homage to the ineffectiveness of the entire production.

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Remade from the Telugu-Tamil bilingual film Bhaagamathie (2018), G. Ashok’s latest directorial venture is an overdose of cliched horror movie tropes thrown into a cauldron of bubbling self-righteous angst of its central characters. The resultant brew is then marinated with a generous helping of obtuse social commentary on Indian politicians. Subsequently, the ingredients, stirred with a heavy hand is served cold in the form of an uninviting concoction.

Bhumi Pednekar stars as an IAS officer by the name of Chanchal Chauhan, who is in a bit of a pickle. Jailed for killing her fiercely sanctimonious (to the point where it is absurd) social activist fiancee, she becomes a subject of interrogation for the CBI for entirely different reasons. They want her to spill the beans on an allegedly corrupt politician, also her former boss, played by Arshad Warsi.

To keep the entire affair under the radar, she is brought to an old, dilapidated ‘haveli’ and grilled relentlessly by the boisterous CBI officer Satakshi Ganguly (Mahie Gill). Aided by a police cohort lead by ACP Abhay Singh (Jisshu Sengupta), Gill’s character soon finds out that this is not her regular case. Things take a turn for the absurd when Pednekar’s character is possessed by an angry spirit, haunting the corridors of the cursed mansion.

Durgamati - The Myth
  • Director: Ashok G.
  • Cast: Bhumi Pednekar, Mahie Gill, Arshad Warsi, Jisshu Sengupta
  • Plotline: A bureaucrat is imprisoned in a haunted house for interrogation. However, things take an unexpected turn when she gets possessed by a spirit
  • Runtime: 2 hours 35 minutes

As if the basic premise was not dull-witted enough, the movie further indulges in unnecessary twists in its storyline, not to mention painting all its characters in a thick coat of black and white tinges.

Shweta J. More’s screenplay translates into a cacophony of monotonous dialogues, one succeeding the other in an uninterested daze befitting of a surrealist short film, but this movie is anything but short.

At two hours and 35 minutes, the length of the production coupled with the bland dialogue writing scars the acting performances of its central cast. Pednekar looks lost half the time. Warsi, instead of opting for a layered portrayal of his character, who is a smooth operator, brings to life an inept caricature of a corrupt minister.

Gill seems to be forceful with her performance until you hear the words coming out of her mouth — which range from funny to bordering on the ludicrous. Especially her attempts at throwing in token Bangla words, one syllable at a time (what is that all about?)

Jisshu, despite ample screen time, appears to be a mere ornamental presence, a character the film could have done without.

The only thing keeping Durgamati alive is its vibrant cinematography. Kuldeep Mamania’s stunning visuals of the interiors of Madhya Pradesh and the insides of the haunted house bring alive the premise, setting up the ambience for what could have been a blood-curdling tale.

The production design is of a high-quality along with the art direction, capturing the ruins of an erstwhile palatial edifice in all its age-torn, moss-worn glory. However, the background score is rather loud and irritating, reflective of the tone of the movie.

To sum it up, Durgamati - The Myth lays down the blueprint of how a movie should not be made, be it a horror flick or otherwise.

Durgamati is currently streaming on Amazon Prime

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 7:41:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/durgamati-the-myth-review-bhumi-pednekar-cant-save-this-uninviting-concoction-of-stale-tropes/article33313946.ece

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