'Durgamati' review: Even a spirited Bhumi Pednekar can’t save this thriller
A corrupt politician, a possessed IAS officer and a haunted mansion; all the dramatic ingredients were there for a great watch, but...
A political crime drama disguised as a horror thriller with a splash of low brow comedy to appeal to the ‘masses’, the Bhumi Pednekar starrer Durgamati: The Myth never seems sure of what genre it belongs to. The Bollywood remake of the 2018 Anushka Shetty led Telugu film Bhaagamathie has a strong thread running through it - the horrors wrought by corrupt leaders can be far more terrifying than the unseen other worldly spirits - but the manner in which the story is told leaves one exhausted. A loud and dramatic background score, a haunted mansion, creaking doors, cobweb ridden secret passageways, the standard ghostly trope of a rocking chair, are all wasted on a movie that never really lives up to its potential.
Bhumi plays an embittered IAS officer Chanchal Chauhan, who is brought back from prison where she has been incarcerated for the murder of her lover, to give evidence against a popular political leader Minister Ishwar Prasad (Arshad Warsi). Inexplicably she is locked up in a dilapidated haunted mansion where the myth of Durgamati holds sway, while the CBI officers make their way through a forest to interrogate her. Bhumi is one of those actresses who never seems to overplay her expressions, so subtility is the name of the game even as she is being possessed by an otherworldly spirit or made to dance to a politician’s tunes. Arshad Warsi is a great actor, but his character’s arcs are such in this thriller, he seems to be enacting each scene as if he’s just been given the script at that moment. Sengupta as the police officer on a mission to avenge his brother’s death seems a bit wasted in this role. Mahie Gill as the CBI Joint Director Satakshi Ganguly, charged with finding some dope on Minister Ishwar is steely enough and has a commanding presence on screen.
The narrative is never gripping despite all the high octane action, and one never gets to feel the horror of what’s being played out on the screen. Admittedly the dramatic scenes where the sedate, mild-mannered Chanchal transforms into a fierce and furious Durgamati should have been the highpoint of the movie, but even that fizzles out.
When a supernatural thriller where myth meets man made horror ends up over-explaining itself, you realize it’s time to vacate this haunted premises.
Durgamati is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Durgamati: The Myth
Cast: Bhumi Pednekar, Arshad Warsi, Jissu Sengupta, Mahie Gill
Rating: 2.5 out of 5