Cast: Bipasha Basu, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Doyel Dhawan, Shernaz Patel, Jaideep Ahlawat
Director: Suparn Verma
Films about possession have created a genre of their own. Bollywood too has caught up with the trend, with Suparn Verma’s Aatma being the latest to jump on the bandwagon. The story revolves around a mother’s (Bipasha Basu) struggle to free her daughter (Doyel) from the clutches of her dead husband’s (Nawazuddin) spirit. Along the way she also battles her own fears and insecurities that have led to this event.
While directing a horror film there is a constant fear that the audience might end up chuckling when not required. Aatma has several such moments. Its downfall lies in its laziness to offer anything new or even light up one single frame that doesn’t fall flat under the weight of its flaky storyline. The dead father making crank calls and showing his presence under eerie lighting seems bogus and contrived. Perhaps revisiting the cult classic Exorcist, or referencing footage from The Exorcism of Emily Rose would have proved that spirits can be menacing if they want to.
The biggest scare in Aatma is its tiring pace. The second half drags into a climax that could have come much earlier. When the writers exhaust their tricks and stunts to keep the plot moving, they try to use the maternal instinct angle to keep you engaged. The premise could have been exploited and we wish Suparn went all out and made a dark gritty psychological thriller than the watered down version we are offered.
Performances are strictly average. The always bankable Nawazuddin is reduced to hamming and spewing awkward dialogues. Bipasha looks the part but is stuck in a rut as Maya. We can feel her pain as she goes through the motions half halfheartedly. Child actor Doyel and supporting actor Shernaz Patel despite their weak characters try and infuse life into their roles.
Aatma lacks the very meaning of its title. Only if the writers had pushed the envelope and taken risks, the film would have at least taken off if not soared.