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Ek Thi Dayan: A modern take on witch lore

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MUMBAI: Superstition about witchcraft is a worldwide phenomenon but beliefs differ from continent to continent. In India, witches are supposed to be found only in deep jungles late at night. Hence, the areas where such jungles exist have more people believing in witches and their sightings. Balaji‘s Ek Thi Dayan binds itself with no such borders and decides to invade a Mumbai mansion. Ek Thi Daayan is about a childhood witch revisiting the protagonist, Emraan Hashmi. It seems like she gets reincarnated every 20 years. After all, why should the privilege of reincarnation be limited only to humans? According to this film, a witch need to be reincarnated too to take her beau back with her no matter how many incarnations it takes!









Producers: Shobha Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor, Vishal Bhardwaj, Rekha Bhardwaj.
Director: Kannan Iyer.
Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Huma Qureshi, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kalki Koechlin, Rojotava Dutta, Pawan Malhotra, Bhavesh Balchandani, Visshesh Tiwari, Sara Raj Arjun.


Hashmi is courting Huma Qureshi and both plan to adopt an orphan (Bhavesh Balchandani) even before they are married. They are a rare couple who, without a justification, want to adopt an orphan instead of making their own kids. Later in the film you learn that the witch story is all about sacrificing a child on 29 February every leap year that coincides with lunar eclipse for her to sustain. As a result, the couple had no time to marry and produce a child and needed one off the shelf for the script‘s sake!


Hashmi is a renowned professional magician. While he performs his tricks, Qureshi, for whatever reason, monitors his shows on close circuit. During one of his shows, things go wrong as he hears eerie voices distracting him from his act, almost costing his assistant girl her life. Hashmi feels he is being stalked. His past seems to have caught up with him. He takes the help of the psychiatrist whom he had consulted as a child. Under a spell, Hashmi is made to recall his childhood experience thus taking the story forward in a flashback.


Young Hashmi (played by Visshesh Tiwari) is reading a book on witches and occult and learns that by pressing the button 6 in the lift, 666 being the sign of devil, the lift will take him straight to hell which is supposed to be somewhere underground! He makes a trip with his sister (Sara Raj Arjun) only to have a witch chase him. It would seem that Hashmi is actually from the witch‘s world too and the witch has always loved him and hence has come to take him back.


Instead, having come in the form of Konkona Sen Sharma, she seduces his widowed father, Pawan Malhotra. It is 29 February and an eclipse and the young Hashmi is a worried lad; his book warns about this and there is murder in the air. His fears prove right; the witch manages to kill his sister as well as his father. He survives because he follows his book which says if you cut off a witch‘s hair, she loses all her power. Hashmi grows up to become a magician as predicted by the witch because a lizard had fallen on his head!


Now the witch is back and Hashmi suspects Kalki Koechlin is the one since as she has suddenly come on the scene from Canada and wishes to buy out his haunted house. Hashmi‘s doubts about Koechlin grow stronger when a balcony barricade gives way and his wife, Qureshi, falls four floors to the ground.


It is 29 February and eclipse again and Hashmi realises the only child that the witch can kill this time is his own adopted child, Balchandani. When he does not find him anywhere, he knows the only place the child could be is hell. Since he knows his way around, he enters hell to save the boy. There he is surprised by the real witch but manages to save the child and render the witch ineffective by cutting her hair until a sequel (which a viewer is threatened with at the end) needs her back.


For a supernatural/ horror genre, the film is too long at 134 minutes. The script has similarities to recent films, Aatma and Raaz2, and hence is too predictable. The first half is okay but the director loses grip as the second half goes haywire. Music is weak. The dialogue is uninspiring. As for performance, Sen Sharma is the best of the lot while Qureshi keeps making smiley faces so much she drips syrup. Koechlin is only a red herring and as such has nothing much to do. Child artistes are all good but Sara Raj Arjun is the most natural while Visshesh Tiwari and Bhavesh Balchandani also do very well.


Ek Thi Dayan has had a weak opening despite Ram Navmi holiday in many parts and with negative word of mouth its prospects are poor at the box office.

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