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"Aaj ke zaamane mein insaan ki maanta kaun hai! Log sirf bhagwan aur shaitaan pe bharosa karte hai," quips Chanchal (Bhumi Pednekar) on being asked the reason behind her actions. Probably, that's one of the reasons why director G Ashok chose to add a dash of supernatural and history in his tale of 'good vs evil.'
For those who have been living under the rock, Bhumi Pednekar's latest outing Durgamati is an official remake of Anushka Shetty's 2018 Telugu flick Bhaagamathie, which was also helmed by Ashok. So, does the Bollywood counterpart succeed in leaving you spooked? Let's find out.
What's Yay: Production value, cinematography, Bhumi Pednekar in a few portions
What's Nay: Those who have already watched Anushka Shetty's Bhaagamathie might be disappointed since Durgamati has nothing new to offer.
IAS officer Chanchal Chauhan (Bhumi Pednekar), is serving a jail sentence for the murder of her fiancé Shakti (Karan Kapadia). Enters CBI officer Satakshi Ganguly (Mahie Gill), who wants Chanchal to spill the secrets of a powerful minister Ishwar Prasad (Arshad Warsi), as she believes the politician is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Since Chanchal was associated with Ishwar Prasad in the past, Satakshi believes she can be the 'Vibhishan' in his Lanka.
With the help of Shakti's brother ACP Abhay Singh (Jisshu Sengupta), Satakshi decides to interrogate Chanchal in a haunted haveli (the infamous Durgamati haveli) to keep the investigation under wraps. However, as Chanchal steps from one eerie room to another in the palace, peering through dust-laden mirrors, secret alleyways and larger-than-life paintings, she soon realizes that there is more to this than meets the eye.
Bhumi Pednekar's Durgamati is a 'cut, copy, paste' of Anushka Shetty's Bhaagamathie, and that's one of the things which come across as a major disappointment. One wished that director G Ashok had added some new twists and turns to keep those hooked who have already watched the original film. The film gets a tad overdramatic at places, and the dialogues too lack a punch. One also wished that the makers had steered clear of the typical horror troupes for the chills.
Bhumi Pednekar's possessed character often says, "Durgamati hoon main, sabka hisaab lungi tab tak naa toh main jaungi naa kisiko jaane dungi." Thankfully, the audience has the option of 'fast forward' whenever the narrative takes a dip.
We all know that Bhumi Pednekar is a terrific performer who has several impressive performances in her repertoire. However, the actress fumbles at places in Durgamati; blame it on the weak direction. The result is that she is no match to Anushka Shetty's Bhaagamathie. The latter had blown the audiences' mind with her grace and sheer magnetic screen presence. In comparison, Bhumi churns a paler act.
Arshad Warsi as Ishwar Prasad holds no surprises as his character gives it all away quite early. In terms of performance, the actor extracts a satisfactory performance out of what's written for him. Mahie Gill as Satakshi Ganguli struggles to stay afloat, and her character's atrocious Bengali is limited to words like 'boka' and 'abarjana'.
The makers fail to do justice to the talented actor Jisshu Sengupta, who suffers from an underwritten role. Karan Kapadia needs to brush up his dialogue delivery as the young lad looks uncomfortable while mouthing heavy-duty dialogues.
What really impressed us the most in Durgamati is Kuldeep Mamania's color palette. The cinematographer has made effective use of soft hues to depict happier times and painted the frames with red and grey tones to express the horror and revenge. Unnikrishnan PP's editing scissors could have easily trimmed down the film by few minutes.
While Thaman's background music in Bhaagamathie was a character in itself, Jakes Bejoy fails to recreate the same magic in Durgamati. Talking about the songs, 'Baras Baras' makes for a soothing hear, but the visuals fall short of being impactful. 'Heer' has forgettable lyrics.
One of the characters in Durgamati tells another, "Apne manzil tak pahuchne ke liya usne apne talent ke kaamal ka istamaal kiya." Sadly, the same can't be said about the film. Despite having a talented star cast, G Ashok's Bollywood directorial debut falls short of being a memorable scarefest due to lack of novelty and bland execution.
We give 2.5 stars out of 5 for Bhumi Pednekar-Arshad Warsi's Durgamati.