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<i>Darna Zaroori Hai</i>

 
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By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Still from Darna Zaroori HaiThree years ago, Ramgopal Varma triggered off an experiment. He combined six different stories in one film called Darna Mana Hai. Continuing with the 'Darna' series, he narrates six different stories once again in his new outing Darna Zaroori Hai. The difference this time is that the six stories are directed by six different directors, unlike the first attempt that had one director [Prawal Raman] calling the shots.

Tales about the unknown and the mysterious always hold an attraction for the audience. But for any horror film to scare the living daylights out of the viewer, it ought to be embellished with blood curdling and spine chilling stories. That's the prime area where Darna Zaroori Hai falters.

Of the six stories that are juxtaposed in the new 'Darna' exercise, only one comes across as an eerie experience [Randeep Hooda, Zakir Hussain; dir.: Chekeravarthy], while two pass muster [Anil Kapoor, Mallika Sherawat; dir.: Jijy Philip / Arjun Rampal, Bipasha Basu, Makrand Deshpande; dir.: Prawal Raman]. The remaining three stories and also the story that binds them in a thread, of an old woman and five children, try hard to terrify and frighten the viewer, but in vain.

Let's get this straight. 'Scary' is too strong a word for Darna Zaroori Hai. The film doesn't even succeed in sending a slight shiver down your spine. Coming from the maker of spell-binding horror stories like Raat and Bhoot, Darna Zaroori Hai is as forgettable as a week-old newspaper.

Story 1
Actor: Manoj Pahwa. Director: Sajid Khan.
Pahwa is a film buff. He watches every new release in the night show on the first day itself. Just as he readies himself to visit a nearby theatre to catch the new release Darna Mana Hai, his mother cautions him against taking the route via the graveyard. Pahwa dismisses his mother's plea since he doesn't believe in ghosts. On his way back, he dies of cardiac failure outside the graveyard.

Still from Darna Zaroori HaiAn interesting story, it keeps your interest alive till Pahwa decides to take the same route on his way back. The sequences in the theatre are hilarious. But the culmination to the plot is hardly scary. Ideally, the story could've done with a fear-provoking end. Pahwa works, but the story doesn't. Sajid shows signs of a fine director.

Story 2
Actors: Amitabh Bachchan, Ritesh Deshmukh. Director: Ramgopal Varma.
An aged professor [Bachchan] believes there's someone in his house. At times, the 'invisible person' rushes to the kitchen. Sometimes, he makes himself comfortable on the chair. Is the professor hallucinating? The professor tries to explain the situation to his student [Ritesh], who revolts and in fact advices him to seek psychiatric help. The 'invisible man' finally appears in the mirror.

Technically, this isn't a scary story; it has more of shock-value. Also, it doesn't create much of an impact. It tries to build the tension, but to no avail. The only time you get a jolt is when the 'invisible man' appears in the mirror. Bachchan and Ritesh are sincere, but RGV's choice of the story is a downer.

Story 3
Actors: Arjun Rampal, Bipasha Basu, Makrand Deshpande. Director: Prawal Raman.
One fateful night, a stranger [Arjun] knocks on the doors of a secluded bungalow. His car has had a breakdown, he needs a mechanic, he ought to make a phone call. The couple [Bipasha, Makrand] living in this house is eccentric. Both constantly try to scare Arjun. When Arjun states that he doesn't believe in ghosts and spirits, Makrand decides to call the spirits. There's a knock on the door and the spirit refuses to go back.

The story has its moments. In fact, there are times when the viewer gets startled. Even the culmination to the story is unexpected. But the problem is that it takes too much time to reach the peak. Arjun is quite effective, while Bipasha and Makrand are satisfactory. Prawal's storytelling is better this time.

Still from Darna Zaroori Hai Story 4
Actors: Suniel Shetty, Sonali Kulkarni, Rajpal Yadav. Director: Vivek Shah.
A Maharashtrian couple [Suniel, Sonali] have an unexpected visitor in the form of a weird salesman [Rajpal Yadav]. He claims to be an insurance agent, but in actuality he's a thief who wants to rob the couple. In the melee that follows, Rajpal pulls the trigger of the pistol and bang!

Hello, how did this story merit a place in a horror film? Nothing wrong with the story per se, but the writer should be reminded that this is a horror film. In actuality, this one only carries a simple message: Never let a stranger in. Even Suniel and Rajpal's decent work fail to infuse life.

Story 5
Actors: Anil Kapoor, Mallika Sherawat. Director: Jijy Philip.
A leading film-maker [Anil] wants to change lanes. After making a couple of family dramas, he is keen to make a horror film next. He decides to write the concluding portions of his script at his bungalow in Khandala. En route, he spots a lone lady [Mallika] and offers to give her a lift till Khandala. When they reach the film-maker's bungalow, the lady tells him that she's a ghost who had died on the Mumbai-Pune highway.

The conversation between Anil and Mallika in the car first and sequences in the bungalow next are involving. The story holds your attention till Mallika reveals her gameplan, of wanting to kill Anil. But the moment she reveals the truth -- she's only an aspiring actress, trying to impress the film-maker to bag the assignment -- the viewer is left with the feeling that the director has taken him [viewer] for a ride. Anil is passable, while Mallika is efficient. Jijy is letdown by the writing!

Story 6
Actors: Randeep Hooda, Zakir Hussain, Rasika Joshi. Director: Chekeravarthy.
On a rainy night, a young man [Randeep] accidentally bumps into a woman. He is petrified. The next morning, when he opens his eyes, he finds himself in the police lock-up. He is accused of murdering a man. He claims he's innocent. The cop [Zakir] refuses to buy the story. The mother of the victim [Rasika] arrives at the police station. And skeletons tumble out of the cupboard.

Still from Darna Zaroori HaiTruly, the best story of the enterprise. The entire track keeps you on the edge. The lengthy conversation between Randeep and Rasika first and Zakir and Rasika subsequently is brilliant. Chekeravarthy is in full form. Randeep, Zakir and Rasika excel.

Story 7
The old lady and five children. Director: Manish Gupta.
Five kids take shelter in a dilapidated bungalow. There's an old woman in the house. She starts narrating stories. Slowly, the kids die of shock one after the other. Without doubt, the worst part of the enterprise. Unimaginative writing, lackluster direction.

On the whole, Darna Zaroori Hai lacks the power to scare, frighten, terrify and petrify. In fact, it's as ineffectual as its predecessor Darna Mana Hai. At the box-office, a major disappointment!

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