Durgamati: The Myth
Director: G. Ashok
Cast: Bhumi Pednekar, Arshad Warsi, Jisshu Sengupta, Mahie Gill, Karan Kapadia
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
Horror is a booming genre across the world. But there are more misses than hits (content wise). Latest offering in Hindi cinema in the genre is director G. Ashok’s Durgamati: The Myth starring Bhumi Pednekar. The film is backed by superstar Akshay Kumar, whose previous film Laxmii, in the same genre, had more frills than thrills. Both, Laxmii and Durgamati are official remakes of South Indian films named Kanchana and Bhaagamathie respectively (presuming hits).
Durgamati: The Myth has Bhumi Pednekar playing Chanchal Chauhan, an IAS officer who’s currently in jail for the murder of her fiancé (Karan Kapadia). When an attempt of maligning the image of her Minister boss (Arshad Warsi) is made by his seniors in politics, Chanchal is shifted from prison to a Haveli which the villagers don’t frequent because it is supposedly haunted. There’s nothing new that happens in the process of the protagonist’s introduction with the supposed ghost/spirit. Writer-director Ashok uses clichés of horror. We have seen too many jump scares to be shocked now.
After Rahi Anil Barve’s masterpiece Tumbbad (2018), it’s high time that other filmmakers also attempt to reinvent the genre. Ashok also tries to add comic relief, which falls flat. The jokes are unfunny and horror is not scary enough. The dialogue is too explanatory and inorganic. The performances look theatrical. Tried sincerely to find something to appreciate in the film.
Not comparing this movie to say what’s not working here, but can’t help revisiting Priyadarshan’s excellent horror-comedy Bhool Bhulaiya (2007) starring Akshay Kumar. And what Vidya Balan did as Manjulika to scare the pants off of the audience. No filmmaker or actor (except for Tumbbad) since then has managed to bring a sense of naturalism into this genre.
Watch the trailer of Durgamati: The Myth
Durgamati: The Myth suffers from its inconsistent writing and direction. Even after the protagonist meets the ghost, the narrative doesn’t seem sure of where it is headed. It does end with a decent climax though. But by then it’s too late to care for anyone in the film. Arshad Warsi as the ‘clean’ Minister does well till the climax where he switches to his comic versions from say Golmaal series. An otherwise fine actor Mahie Gill as CBI officer Satakshi Ganguly has a borrowed Bengali accent, bites teeth as she speaks, which at times is unintentionally funny. Jisshu Sengupta as the ACP has a role to ham as and when needed.
It is sad that we have to use ghosts to address the issues of people, especially the oppression women have been through for centuries. Unfortunately, neither the purpose nor entertainment (the primary aim of cinema) comes through Durgamati: The Myth. At two and a half hours, the film tests your patience and has nothing new to offer. It is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.