Review time here at the ol’ Litterbox once again!! This time out it’s yet another Hindi horror offering, part of the big ol’ pile of Indian DVD’s I received in the mail just recently, “Ek Thi Daayan…”.
Our film’s synopsis reads like this: “Bobo (Emraan Hashmi), is India’s premier stage magician and illusionist. But unknown to even his girlfriend Tamara, Bobo’s life is falling apart. His constant hallucinations leave him with no option but to seek psychiatric help. Going through regression hypnosis, a terrifying story about his childhood surfaces involving a sinister entity called “Daayan” who has not only destroyed his family but also promised to return to destroy him after 20 years. He chooses to ignore it and move on with his life. Just when his career and love life is at full throttle, in enters the irresistibly mysterious Lisa Dutt. After many odd coincidences, Bobo becomes convinced that she is the reincarnation of the Daayan from his past returned to complete her revenge. But is she, really? Or is he just losing his mind?”
Now this one sounds a wee bit more like the kind of film I normally like. Witches… curses… revenge from beyond the grave… and a little romance thrown in to sweeten the taste of this bit of curry flavored horror goodness. Yep. Neko’s definitely one happy lil’ Catgirl when she gets a DVD like this one for our “Movie Time” cuddle fest…
From what I saw in the Trailers, I’ve had some high expectations for it… and if you want to see if I ended up all happy and content with it’s creepy story goodness then all you have to do o’ Gentle Visitor is “Read On” to find out!!
So, given that the last big package of DVD’s to make it’s way into my mailbox was a whopper from India, it didn’t come as any real surprise to Carolyn that we’d be watching quite a few Bollywood films for the next couple of weeks. I’d been meaning to get to this particular one sooner… but things have kept getting in my way and making a relaxing movie watching experience somewhat difficult of late. Still… this wee lady can’t be without her creepy movie fix for long…
So what’s this one about? Well.. our film’s hero, Bejoy Charan Mathur aka “Bobo the Baffler” (played by Emraan Hashmi) is apparently supposed to be the David Copperfield of India, a stage magician and illusionist par excellence with a hit stage show… a pretty fiancé named Tamara (played by Huma Qureshi)… and is nearly the adoptive father of young orphan boy Zubin (played by Bhavesh Balchandani). Fame, money, and love… what else could anybody want in life?
How about knowing the real truth behind the weird and tragic deaths of his father and little sister… a horrible incident he can’t remember, blocked from his brain in some fashion, and which seems to haunt his mind obsessively to the point of standing between him and the happiness he deserves with Tamara and Zubin? How about if that obsession has gotten so bad that he’s being haunted by the ghost of his little sister Misha (played by Sara Arjun)… a ghost which seems intent on warning him about something terrible that he needs to remember? Yeah… that ought to set things up nicely for the story to unfold.
All the stress ends up nearly killing one of his pretty stage assistants during a show when he becomes distracted by Misha’s ghost and shaken by the experience he ducks away from a worried Tamara to return to his father’s old apartment in a dingy run-down building in the city where he broods and drinks and tries desperately to piece together the fragments of memory surrounding that tragedy 20 years before. Another weird encounter with Misha and a creepy gecko, and he decides to look up the old retired Psychologist, Dr. Ranjan Palit (played by Rajatava Dutta) whom he saw as a boy to plead for help in figuring it all out.
Despite his reservations, the doctor puts him through hypnotic regression therapy, and Bobo remembers it all at last in a flashback sequence. It seems that 20 years earlier, when Bobo was 11 and his little sister Misha was 6, our hero was even then obsessed with all things magical and supernatural. Using a freaky book he got from a junk dealer, he figures out how to make the broken elevator in the apartment building take him and Misha on an express trip to Hell one dark night. Shaken and scared, they escape back to the Mortal world, but get followed by the most dangerous spirit trapped in that building’s particular Hell, a dangerous “Daayan”…. a demonic witch!! (Ohh… it seems that every building in the world has it’s own particular Hell to hold the spirits of every evil person to live there…. Nice, eh? )
She masquerades as a woman newly moved to the area named Diana (played by Konkona Sen Sharma) and uses her evil powers of seduction to ensnare Bobo’s father as part of her plan to eventually sacrifice Misha on the leap year to sustain her evil powers and freedom. Bobo isn’t fooled for a minute by her charms… he soon learns from a senile neighbor that she is really a child murderer named Lisa Dutt, a woman who was hanged for her crimes years before… as impossible as that seems. After that old man’s mysterious death, he spends his time desperately trying to make his father believe him that she is a danger to them all. It doesn’t work of course… he only manages to make trouble between himself and his father, who is blinded by Diana’s beauty beyond any listening to the unbelievable tale Bobo has to tell.
This all leads to a fateful evening on the night of the leap year when Diana reveals her true self… suffocating poor Misha and then slaying his father with her evil life stealing spells. Bobo manages to stop her at last…. finding her one weakness is that her powers is contained within her long hair braid. Cutting that stops her in her tracks, causing her to rot away to dust, with a final curse on her lips that she would return again to deal with him in the future leaving poor traumatized Bobo to deal with explaining things to the authorities alone. No wonder Dr. Palit saw fit to use his hypnosis to lock those memories away… memories that just couldn’t have been anything but the delusional fears of a little boy orphaned by the deaths of the two people closest to him and the unexplainable disappearance of his new step-mom.
Wow… now with a story like that you’d think some serious psychotherapy might be in order for our hero next. Instead, he decides to shake those dreadful memories by finally bucking down and marrying Tamara so they can formally adopt Zubin and make a life for themselves beyond those crazy fears. Except that Bobo’s memories are all too real after all….
During his stage show, a mysterious woman manages to get herself invited into the act… a woman who identifies herself as “Lisa Dutt” (played by Kalki Koechlin)… a fan from Canada who has always wanted to meet him… and who has more than a creepy interest in him and his new life. A mere coincidence? Or is she the re-incarnation of the Daayan, come back to complete her revenge after 20 years?
Bobo feels that’s exactly what’s going on…. and despite his attempts to avoid her, Lisa keeps popping up to insinuate herself in his life… and the life of his family. Bobo knows he must face the threat again, or lose his chance at happiness and revenge for little Misha forever. Oh yeah…. somebody’s just gotta die.
But… this wee Catgirl can’t tell you much more. There’s a “twist” to our story you see… just when you think you know what’s going to happen… well… you don’t. Let’s just say we get some serious witch fighting goodness and quite a bit of “father and adopted son” bonding towards the end of our film. We also get to find out just why Bobo’s such a great magician… just what the Daayan really wants… ahhhh… and how to kill one of course. Yep. Important bit, that last one…
All this stuff made for a great lil’ movie. Oh, and all in just over 2 hours too, not bad for a Hindi film. Your Favorite Catgirl really liked this one. Even Carolyn was pleased… not an easy trick, I assure you. I can easily give “Ek Thi Daayan…” a well deserved 4 “Meows” out of 5. It’s atmospheric… with some neat folklore stuff… and blessed with some pretty good acting and a strong simple story. It’s also an easy film for a non-Indian audience to get a handle on, but yet it still preserves the feeling that it is a Hindi film, all without needing to resort to the usual elements that bog down a Hindi story. Musical numbers? Yep… they are there, but woven in pretty well without being a distraction, or slowing the pacing down to a crawl. There’s a lot to like here, and this wee Catgirl’s thinking many of you with similar tastes in crazy cinema might enjoy a look too. If so, this one is easy to find at prices from 6-15$ US most of the usual places Hindi DVD’s can be found. If so… definitely give it a try.
Oooohhh… and as always, of course, there’s a Trailer… filled with all that witchy goodness… (or would that be “evilness”?)