Durgamati Movie Review
All sound, no furyDurgamati, a remake of the Anushka Shetty starrer South film Bhaagamathie was much hyped as a new-age horror film. Alas, the claim falls flat as there isn’t one instance where you feel the tiniest amount of horror ever. In fact, the film’s attempt at both horror and comedy fall flat. The film is actually a revenge drama. And given the premise, it would have worked nicely if the director had gone about his business in a straightforward manner. The highly convoluted plot is the biggest obstacle to the film. And so is the lethargic pace. The length could easily have been trimmed by one hour. The director has tried to put too many things in it. There’s a farmers’ protest at one level, then there’s a quasi-religious angle involving the theft of ancient idols. One character even says out loud that the government’s lethargy on the subject of stolen idols is an assault against ‘Hindutva’. On the other hand, we have the familiar tale of corrupt politicians plotting against another corrupt politician. Ishwar Prasad (Arshad Warsi) has become such an eyesore because of his neat and clean image that higher-ups from his own party want to do away with him. They want to jail him under some trumped-up charge and a high-level CBI enquiry is set up under the command of the no-nonsense officer Satakshi Ganguly (Mahie Gill). The former assistant to the minister, IAS officer Chanchal Chauhan (Bhumi Pednekar) is languishing in jail for the alleged murder of her fiance Shakti Singh (Karan Kapadia), younger brother of IPS officer ACP Abhay Singh (Jisshu Sengupta). Abhay is asked to relocate Chanchal in a remote palace situated deep inside a jungle so that the CBI can conduct its enquiry covertly. The palace is supposedly haunted by the ghost of its previous owner, Queen Durgamati, who died under mysterious circumstances. Chanchal vouches for Ishwar’s integrity and the CBI’s mission seems to be going nowhere. However, things change when Chanchal gets possessed by the spirit of Durgamati…Several things in the film are purely nonsensical. Why the CBI decides to investigate in a remote place situated in a forest defies logic as they could easily have done the same in the jail or even some secret cell within the city. A murder accused is left by herself in a huge house. Why doesn’t the CBI team and the police stay in the palace with her? The whole palace is fitted with cameras while the interrogation takes place in a tent. The CBI is shown to take the help of a Tantrik. They even call in a shrink to analyse Chanchal, who advises moving her from the remote location, which they fail to do. In the end, the CBI is mysteriously supplied the proof they needed to crack the case. What was the need of the secret interrogation if documented proof was lying around? Spirit possession is the whole point of the film and we must say Bhumi Pednekar has put her heart and soul in those scenes. She has taken to the split personality routine to a T. Bhumi is actually the only actor in the film who has believed in the whole shambolic plot and given her all to it. She plays her part with an undying conviction and her acting is the only redeeming feature in the film. Mahie Gill, Arshad Warsi and Jisshu Sengupta are all talented individuals but are horribly typecast here and are further bogged down by the erratic writing. Kudos to them for not laughing out loud and going with the flow.
Trailer : Durgamati
Pallabi Dey Purkayastha, December 11, 2020, 3:30 AM IST
STORY: Life turns upside down for disgraced IAS officer Chanchal Chauhan when she is taken to a deserted mansion for police questioning. There, she is possessed by a spirit who was wronged and –make no mistake – she will be avenged. REVIEW: IAS officer Chanchal Chauhan (Bhumi Pednekar) was just a few days shy of being married to social activist Shakti Singh (Karan Kapadia) when tragedy struck. Chauhan is behind bars for brutally murdering her fiancé. In a not-so-distant world, Minister of Water Resources, Ishwar Prasad (Arshad Warsi), is on CBI’s radar for the mysterious disappearance of multiple idols from renowned ancient temples. Chauhan’s fate is sealed and Prasad is evading capture – what’s the connect between these two government servants together? Why is Chauhan being questioned in an abandoned, deplorable building notorious for paranormal presence and often labelled as ‘cursed’? And, most importantly, upon reaching the venue, why did Chauhan claim to be the physical avatar of the ghostly Durgamati, and who was she?Ashok G’s Hindi retelling of his 2018 Tamil-Telugu bilingual ‘Bhaagamathie’ is daring but dated, relevant but rancid. Writer-director Ashok G’s ambitious project ‘Durgamati’ rides on the horse-and-buggy theme of ‘good over evil’ with ‘Vox Pop’ serving as undercurrent in this socially inclined horror-thriller. Barring the first scene – where women, children are seen flying around and being dragged out of their homes by an evil entity – the first 30 minutes is solely dedicated to building the premise and laying it all out for the audience to get hooked. Premise we get, hooked we don’t. For starters, Bhumi Pednekar as the dejected bureaucrat-behind-bars paints a gloomy picture and the viewer is invested well enough to be curious about her back story. But, once the shift from this demure persona to a vengeful former queen (who is incessantly singing her own praises, pfft…) happens, Bhumi becomes this bombastic devi whose heroism and subsequent plight is one that makes you wince and shudder. With the drastic makeover – permed hair and sari-draping fashioned on Hindu goddesses – Durgamati is an epic misfire on revenge and redemption, women empowerment and political conspiracies. From the standpoint of a horror flick, ‘Durgamati’ disappoints – shadowy presence looming at the back of a room, flicking of the hair, a scary neck sticking out of nowhere are medieval and flat-out passé. Jakes Bejoy’s background score worsens the situation for its director – too dramatic, too archaic. Now, observing the storyline from a thriller perspective, ‘Durgamati’ is neither here nor there. If anything, it is the sum-total of all that’s wrong, with the world with no in-depth focus on one subtheme: too peripheral for our liking. The climax is foreseeable, if not in its entirety. Likewise, the comedy bit is a decade too late – ‘Gopi, tumhare angur kyun kaap rahein hai’ extracts cringe out of the audience in 2020, not a chuckle. Even the doling out of gyaan is too utopian to be real and does not land where it’s supposed to. Assuming you would agree when we say that Bhumi is a natural and this movie was no exception to that phenomenon, the versatile actress was out of her element as the feisty ghost – is it the meek writing? Who’s to say! Karan Kapadia has a Swades-esque moment, he was in the US, following which he comes back to the village of Panna and works towards the betterment of his countrymen. As Shakti, he is angry, a straight shooter and has only limited screen space. It would have been interesting to see more of him on the big screen. Mahie Gill is the corrupt Joint Director of CBI, Satakshi Ganguly, and although this fine actress tries to maintain the seriousness of the plot… there’s not much for her to do.Also, Bengalis’ lack of understanding of the Hindi language is one Bollywood stereotype that is as old as dear time. Arshad Warsi’s Ishwar Prasad wants to change the nation through honest and fair means and that man is just as impactful. ACP Singh (and Shakti’s elder brother in the film) is Jisshu Sengupta – even in his brief, underdeveloped role he charms us the way he always does, effortlessly! In a world where politics is often synonymous to hooliganism to some and egalitarianism is an alien concept (again, to some), ‘Durgamati’ does have a lesson or two to impart but the narrative and its storytelling technique is so bland that it slips through the cracks. A dialogue around strong ideologies including women empowerment is always welcome, but it could be delivered better.