Durgamati Hindi Movie
For a horror movie, Durgamati: The Myth has a clever plot, but it is ruined by harebrained execution. It is a remake of G. Ashok's own bilingual film Bhaagamathie, which I have not seen. It is not just the movie that is bilingual, but even the characters speak more than one language here. Take the character of Bhumi Pednekar, Chanchal Chauhan, for instance. When possessed by the spirit of an ancient goddess, she even speaks Arabic.
She is an IAS officer imprisoned for killing her lover/fiance, as well as accused of covering up a local politician's alleged misdeeds. Mahie Gill's CBI officer, Satakshi Ganguly, leads an interrogation of Chanchal about her politician boss's alleged involvement in a real estate project and looting of ancient idols. For the interrogation, Chanchal is released from prison, and she is held captive in a big mansion. It is not just another mansion, but one that is thought to be haunted by Durgamati. Which perhaps explains why a big bird follows the CBI and the IAS officers' vehicles when on their way to the mansion.
Soon, we get some pieces of information about who Durgamati was and what happened to her in the past. We are also told that she speaks Arabic, which means even the possessed does the same. But why Arabic? It is an ancient Indian goddess, so why not make her speak some other native language. It is beyond me. It seems to be the makers' way of making the film sound more clever, but they should have worked on the script instead.
Durgamati is produced partly by Akshay Kumar's enterprise, Cape of Good Films. So, it is no wonder the movie seems outlandish for the most part. Bhumi Pednekar seems to have taken a leaf out of Akshay from his recent horror movie entitled Laxmii. Like that horror flick, much of Durgamati is an exercise in tired old horror tropes. Even the filmmaking is way off here. The makers try to build an atmosphere befitting a haunted house film, but it all comes across as a laughable attempt. The set elements give the impression that some big fans were used to make that horror ambience. That is to say, the effort is glaringly obvious.
The biggest takeaways from Laxmii was that Akshay could drape a saree and show all his teeth wherever required in the film. Pednekar also does both in Durgamati, and she makes a meal of the part. It takes some conviction from an actor to keep banging her head on the walls, mouth utterly ludicrous dialogues, and even stare at the audience.
Durgamati is not a write-off, though. It is not unwatchable. It has a plot that is smarter than your average horror film, and a few actors doing or saying something unintentionally funny. Mahie Gill's CBI officer evokes the biggest laughs of the film wherever her character says that she hates negativity. Of course, it is not her intention. Arshad Warsi plays the politician Ishwar Prasad, but the character looks and talks like a more educated and gentlemanly version of his own Circuit from the Munna Bhai series. Arshad is a good actor, is miscast here, but he has some fun with the role by hamming it up and acting with a sense of self-awareness. I enjoyed watching him, too.
Karan Kapadia has a small role as the leader of the villagers, Shakthi. Karan is earnest, but he struggles with conveying emotions properly. It is hardly any surprise that only Jisshu Sengupta tries to do some serious acting here and make a character out of something.
In fact, any actor or the acting is not the issue with this film. It is the execution that falters big time. You may watch it on Amazon Prime.