Bollywood First Day First Show: Ek Thi Daayan Review

Rashmi Daryanani , 19 Apr 2013
Ek Thi Daayan
Ek Thi Daayan

Bobo (Emraan Hashmi) is a magician who is plagued by hallucinations of his younger days, and the constant fear that he is being haunted by a daayan (witch). This fear begins to strain his relationship with his girlfriend, Tamara (Huma Qureshi), who believes he isn’t being entirely forthcoming about his feelings. To get to the bottom of this, Bobo undergoes hypnotherapy, and we delve into his childhood where we meet Diana (Konkona Sen Sharma), who Bobo is convinced is a witch out to kill him and his sister. Meanwhile, in the present, there’s a mysterious woman named Lisa Dutt (Kalki Koechlin), who worms her way into Bobo’s life.

On paper, the Ekta Kapoor/Vishal Bhardwaj combo seems like a force to be reckoned with. Does it work as well on-screen? Have a look at our Pros and Cons list to find out!

Pros:

(+) The first half. The pace of the first half is excellent, and we don’t have to wait long for the eerie feeling to settle in. Bobo’s hallucinations kick off in the first sequence alone, and it barely lets up from there on. The film draws you in completely and there’s not a minute to settle back in your chair and relax. The best part of the entire film is the flashback portion, when an eleven-year-old Bobo is convinced that Diana, the new lady in their lives, is a daayan who has emerged (quite literally) from underground to claim them. You’re left wondering throughout whether there actually is a witch, or whether it’s all just a product of a troubled child’s mind.

Ek Thi Daayan
Ek Thi Daayan

(+) It’s spooky. Sure, the film uses some pretty common elements – heightening background score, dolls, creepy buildings – and sometimes you wish they’d have been a bit more innovative, but I’d be lying if I told you it wasn’t scary! What’s best is that the first half is practically an assault:  like I mentioned before, it barely lets up, and you don’t get much of a breather before being thrust from one creepy scene into another. Infact, I’m pretty surprised about the U/A certificate and I would suggest parents think twice before taking their kids along, especially since most of the terrifying bits occur to the children.

Ek Thi Daayan
Ek Thi Daayan

(+) The performances. I really believe that Emraan Hashmi doesn’t get his due, and we’re all guilty of giving him the serial kisser tag. There’s exactly one smooching scene in this film, but he’s fabulous: he’s vulnerable and restrained and delivers a convincing performance. Huma Qureshi is lovely and Kalki Koechlin does well, despite less screentime. Konkona Sen Sharma is the pick of the lot, though – she’s fantastic as Diana, and somehow manages to be both alluring and terrifying at the same time. Vishesh Tiwari, as young Bobo, is a natural. Pawan Malhotra, as Bobo’s dad, is great.

Cons:

(-) The second half. Oh, that second half. By the time the interval hits, your heart is racing both from the fast pacing and the scary moments. But the second hour is a disappointment – the pace slows, the scares occur less frequently, and the climax fails to impress. Kalki’s character, which is introduced post-interval, is barely explained: there’s a set-up that sounds promising, but it’s an angle that’s not properly explored.

Ek Thi Daayan
Ek Thi Daayan

(-) It’s stereotypical. The idea of a witch is child-like, almost (twisted limbs and long plaits) and elements such as leap years and lunar eclipses are also thrown in. This was intentional, perhaps, but it still feels a bit forced and unimaginative in what is otherwise quite an interesting story.

Verdict:

Worth a watch, for sure, especially if you’re a fan of horror – but know that it’s downhill post the interval. Parents should avoid taking younger children along.

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