Movie Review: Ek Thi Daayan
For a horror film, the shock tactics and sound effects are pretty good.
The problem is that the film largely relies on that one suspense element kept in store in the climax.
In the vein of films like The Twilight Saga, even Ek Thi Daayan had the potential to bring to life the mythical legends of our lands.
Director: Kannan Iyer
Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Konkana Sen Sharma, Huma Qureshi, Kalki Koechlin
A U/A certificate for an Emraan Hashmi film could seem like a distinction but is certainly not complimenting for a horror film. However, notwithstanding the censor certification, Ek Thi Daayan still promises some imaginative chills and thrills, so requisite for the success of the genre.
So after surviving on old-school ghosts and demons for decades, we finally have a film that introduces a desi devil in the form of a daayan – an entity popular in folklore but seldom explored. By definition, a daayan is a devil who preys on children to retain her evil powers. To a decent extent, the makers are successful in creating an enigmatic world around the daayan and giving it an individual identity. So a daayan has her dingy den in the basement of a building, has her powers in her elongated plait and seeks sacrifice of kids on the lunar eclipse of a leap year.
The story is of a magician Bobo (Emraan Hashmi) who is unable to get over an incident from his childhood, where he encountered a daayan who killed his little sister. It is disturbing both his professional and personal life. And now he has a feeling that the daayan, who had vowed to return, has come back in a different guise.
Written by Vishal Bhardwaj and Mukul Sharma, the story of Ek Thi Daayan plays largely in two episodes. The first has the daayan chronicle seen through the eyes of Bobo as a child, while the second is about Bobo’s paranoia of the daayan’s return in his adult life. Clearly the childhood chapter, which essentially defines and determines the devil and her desire, is more creepy and captivating. The lift through which she mysteriously comes and disappears makes for a haunting setting and can incite momentary elevator phobia.
But after a riveting first half, the narrative somewhere turns shallow in the second half as Bobo’s adult episode takes over. The problem is that the film largely relies on that one suspense element kept in store in the climax. But if you are discerning enough, the revelation won’t come as a surprise. Moreover after credibly crafting the witch world in the first half, director Kannan Iyer doesn’t seem to know what to do thereafter and opts for a hurried and tame climax.
For a horror film, the shock tactics and sound effects are pretty good. However, a love song or a marriage celebratory number was something least required in such scheme of events. Also the film often resorts to too many conveniences and the back stories of the characters could have done with more meat.
Emraan Hashmi is earnest but has played such baffled characters so often that there isn’t any novelty left in his act. Rather, child actor Vishesh Tiwari, who plays his young counterpart, is much impressive. Huma Qureshi’s cuteness somewhere overpowers her chubbiness. Kalki Koechlin hardly gets any scope. The film largely belongs to Konkana Sen Sharma whose expressive act gives the genre the depth it deserves. Rajatava Dutta as the psychiatrist is amusing.
In the vein of films like The Twilight Saga, even Ek Thi Daayan had the potential to bring to life the mythical legends of our lands. If you excuse the ‘done-to-death’ climax, this one does make a decent attempt at doing so.
Ek Thi Daayan will momentarily lift your spirits!