It’s been a ride. It’s been more of a light and sound show and less of a horror movie.

An Amazon Original movie with Akshay Kumar, Vikram Malhotra and Cape of Good films as producers, Durgamati is being screened with the aim of delivering an enlightening and a devilish experience at the same time.

Horror is a delectable genre with fanatics who know the inside out of what makes a good horror film. ‘Better’ is a contemporary word. But when you spend crores on a project, you expect a certain kind of output. Don’t worry, this shall be more suspenseful than the movie and by the end of this you’ll have learned something about the movie without any spoilers.

Only a generation of readers will spawn a generation of writers.”– Steven Spielberg

Let’s look at what G. Ashok the man behind the story, screenplay, and direction has learned from his idols.

If you’ve got a Haveli, you can make a Bollywood horror film around it. There are certain elements which have almost become a staple for writers, it seems, when they sit (if they even sit, they could be making stuff on the sets it seems) to write a horror story. A couple of Tantriks, a Haveli, a huge door and keeping up with the trend, a pair of ghungroos too. You cannot help but be reminded of Bhool Bhulaiya whenever you see a locked, dusty, spider web covered, humongous door in any film. By that standards every movie that uses these props should be paying royalty to the creators of Bhool Bhulaiya.

The movie stars veterans who have given notable performances with the front runners being Arshad Warsi, Mahie Gill and Jishu Sengupta. And then there’s the leading lady in the body of Bhumi Pednekar. It’s often seen that bad writing takes a toll on an actor’s performance more than often. It hasn’t been this evident lately as with Durgamati.

Arshad Warsi plays a politician who is principled and disciplined to do and bring good to his constituency. And of course, there’s people who wanna tarnish his image. There’s nothing wrong with using such a character but what makes it less convincing is the use of similar kind of dialogues and scene settings where the character is seated infront of people who need help and who pledges to sacrifice his reputation and all his assets even if it can lead to a better life for somebody else. That’s where a writer’s, a screenwriter’s job comes in. Sadly they didn’t
come even once during the film. Mahie Gill plays a CBI officer whose Bengali-ness just won’t keep calm and stay inside. A forced accent which is unnecessary more than often and usage of words “boka” and referring to a lady as “tum karega” doesn’t really appeal to the senses. It’s an attempt to almost reassure and remind the audiences, Hey! Look, she’s Bengali! Her name’s Ganguly so we’re gonna make it more than evident and overdo it.

Bhumi Pednekar when she’s supposedly under the influence of the spirit delivers all dialogues ending on a high pitch edging towards screaming. You really start wondering if the ghost can bring a little voice modulation to disrupt the

The cinematography has been given some thought and most of the budget has been spent on the set design which doesn’t really look like they cracked a good deal with the designers. Camera movements are repetitive in their nature and don’t build up any suspense. It’s the same rhythmic jump scares that are really more funny than scary. And it has an awful number of close-upsnkins

where the character is in the middle of the frame and mostly the wind is blowing and they are screaming into the camera. Close ups can be as beautiful as any Barry Jenkins movie which build emotion or as hollow as used in this case.

You could draw a tally bar for the number of times there are ultra-quick zooms to potentially scare you all of which prove unsuccessful. Characters are introduced without build-up, without background and they still ended up making a 2 and a half hour movie. It carries a few scenes which are intended to be funny, for example, in a scene in the presence of an armless watchman of the Haveli, a police officer says “Chhabi Do Watchman!” He doesn’t have hands. Can’t really give the keys. See what the writers did there? They tried and be creative. There are faces being slapped, limbs being twisted in the wrong way and people held in the air by their neck. I don’t know why all ghosts(all writers) do that. Oh! And there’s a rocking chair as well! Bet you didn’t see that one coming. And Tanishk Bagchi deserves a paragraph of his own. A horror movie is as good as its sound effects. You know that from The Conjuring, The Exorcist, The Sixth Sense, etc. And let’s just say, Bagchi will put electro-pop music anywhere he’s asked to make music.

There’s a twist at the end of the tale. It does stop you in your tracks for once but then you question yourself if going through the entire movie was even worth the twist? Where did it lack? It can’t be put on Bhaagamathie on which it is based. It’s basically a Hindi dubbed version of the Telugu-Tamil film.

Durgamati, written and directed by G. Ashok is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video.


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