Horror-comedies are in vogue these days. Films like ‘Stree’ have shown that with the right dosage of comedy and horror, the viewers would lap up a supernatural or a fantasy story. On the same lines, the director G. Ashok’s ‘Durgamati’ is a faithful remake of his own Tamil-Telugu blockbuster ‘Bhaagamathie’ (2018), starring Anushka Shetty. Unfortunately, this frame-by-frame remake takes itself too seriously and takes the ‘Usual Suspects’ route to its culmination. It’s not that the film is unwatchable. Yet something seems to be amiss in this part scary-part unbelievable story of a woman, who’s seemingly possessed by a revenge-seeking spirit.
A dilapidated mansion, haunted by ghosts is hardly a novelty these days. People get into it and eventually get possessed, fringe characters make funny faces and somewhere down the line, a pivotal character discovers a secret – you know the drill! ‘Durgamati’ follows this script to the T, saves the twist in the tale until the end yet comes out unconvincing. Even for the ones who haven’t watched the original film, can guess the twist from a long distance. It’s just lying there, looking desperately at the viewer, begging them frantically to discover it! The film employs the classic buffooneries of the minor characters which seems archaic and unfunny. As a viewer, you don’t laugh at the jokes yet the pathetic attempt to become funny becomes laughable as well as tragic.
The film is marred by individual performances. Bhumi Pednekar in the titular role gets to do the heavy lifting. She looks out of the place as the possessed woman. It’s her film yet she seems to be lacking the dynamics that Vidya Balan had so exemplified as the possessed Manjulika in ‘Bhool Bhulaiya’. She pales in comparison with Anushka Shetty who essayed the same character in ‘Bhaagamathie’. Mahie Gill, a seasoned actor, is rank bad as the CBI officer, who chews each of her words while speaking in a weird Bengali accent. Jisshu Sengupta is wasted in a role that frankly, could’ve been done by anyone. Karan Kapadia is decent in a blink and a miss role. The saving grace of the film is Arshad Warsi who comes up with a superlative performance as minister Ishwar Prasad. In fact, when it seems the movie’s spiralling downwards, Arshad ups his game and comes out as the most convincing of the actors, as he performs his skin out.
‘Durgamati’ could’ve been a game changer. Unfortunately it doesn’t live upto the expectations of its original and comes out flat.
‘Durgamati’, now streaming on Amazon Prime. Running time 156 minutes, Rated Universal for family viewing.
The Cinemawala Rating: 2.5/5