Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Konkana Sen Sharma, Huma Qureshi, Kalki Koechlin Direction: Kannan Iyer Genre: Thriller Duration: 2 hours 14 minutes
A young boy is obsessed with the occult. As he grows up, he takes his obsession to giddy lengths—often letting the lines between reality and fiction blur. When you meet the unassuming, bespectacled Kannan Iyer in person, you will never guess that he’s the man who has served up one of Indian cinema’s taut supernatural thriller’s Ek Thi Daayan. It’s piping hot (it’s got Emraan Hashmi–who calls himself a tiger in bed), terribly scary and yet it’s aesthetically garnished.
Set in contemporary Mumbai; the film tells you a believable story of Bobo(Emraan) the magician, who is a master in his craft. But when you scratch the surface, scars from his growing up years come to light. Cut to Bobo’s childhood. He’s a curly-haired, cute moppet(Vishesh; he plays the young Emraan) who grows up reading about witch-craft and is inexplicably drawn to magic. He doesn’t realise that his fascination is fast becoming an obsession.
Things reach a head, when his widower father (Pawan Malhotra) brings home a new bride Diana ( Konkana Sen Sharma). The boy equates a step-mother to a daayan(witch) and his young mind plays tricks with him. You find yourself biting your nails in nervousness and digging your heels hard into the carpet in the cinema hall as this spook-fest unfolds. Woven beautifully between the world of magic, occult and suspense, Ek Thi Daayan, makes for compulsive viewing, providing some spine-chilling thrills at short gaps. The narrative in the first half is almost faultless.
There are some nice romantic moments between the lead pair Emraan and Huma and a couple of songs too. But just when you start to relax and flow with the emotions, along comes a scary twist that jolts you back to the edge of your seat. The climax is a bit stereotype of horror/supernatural thrillers but that’s a minor hiccup in an otherwise cleverly done film of this genre. Vishal Bharadwal’s music and Gulzar’s lyrics— especially kaali kaali, yaaram and lautungi main are outstanding. Of the performers—Konkana Sen Sharma and Emraan Hashmi are in top form.
Huma Qureshi, Kalki Koechlin, Pawan Malhotra and the child actor, Vishesh are very competent. Kannan Iyer makes an impressive debut…and kudos to Ekta Kapoor and Vishal Bharadwaj for allowing him to bring his daayan to life without compromises. This film doesn’t play to the galleries nor is it one of those brain-dead movies that Bollywood churns out as assembly line.