Review: Ek Thi Daayan brings together 2 great minds. Penned by Vishal Bhardwaj & produced by Ekta Kapoor. The credible star cast and promos managed to create quite a buzz.  Expectations were obviously high. When such big names come together, one assumes Indian cinema’s horror scene will be changed for good (much needed). Alas! Ek Thi Daayan is intriguing only in parts. Specifically the fact that this tale of ‘the witch from hell’ is seen from a child’s eye. Sure, as adults we are still scared. Leave the light on till we fall asleep, after a particularly disturbing novel, supernatural movie etc. We wake up in the morning, laugh about our stupidity and move on with life. But as children we readily gobble up any tale about fairies, ghosts etc. told by anyone. Elder sister, brother, classmates or funny-looking books we find in attics. These scary stories can easily consume children and become their nightmares. A fragile and impressionable mind can believe just about any scary story they are told. But when they grow up they realize it is all nonsense. Or is it?  

Based on a short story by Mukul Sharma, Ek Thi Daayan begins with a very promising premise. A famous magician’s (Bobo) confused childhood repeatedly haunts him. A session with a hypnotherapist reveals his true past. That of a single father and his innocent kids – Bobo and Misha. Bobo loves magic and reading about strange magical stories. He stumbles upon a book that tells him everything he needs to know about Daayans & Pishahs (Witches & Demons). Every intricate detail about witches including the feet pointing backwards, the source of her powers (her long tresses/braid) etc. But what happens when a real-life Daayan starts seducing his father? What happened to his sister and father? Why is he an orphan?  Bobo’s session results in some shocking revelations regarding the presence of a Daayan that promised to return for him. What happens when she actually does return? Will he recognize her? How? That’s for you to find out.

The revelation of the Daayan’s avatar pre-interval is the point where it starts going downhill. No matter how many brilliant performers you get to play witches and demons, if they have bad CGI work done on them, it is going to look unbelievable. Even if the Daayan was crawling down a wall (Exorcist-style) in a designer sari.

The story post-interval took such absurd turns it soon became predictable. In fact it came suspiciously close to the climax of the third installment of another horror franchise. Konkona was the standout performer in the movie. Emraan delivers an underplayed performance that is rather perfect for the character. More of Kalki maybe would have salvaged some of the film. Huma however seemed slightly uncomfortable.

Overall, what began with intriguing graphics for the opening song that only added to the mysterious promos, ended with disappointment.  Watch only for the uniqueness of the first 45 minutes and a couple of good performances.

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