Starring: Huma Qureshi, Saqeeb Saleem, Adil Hussain, Lisa Ray,Madalina Bellariu
Directed by: Prawaal Raman
Rating: ****(4 Stars)
Seldom , if ever, in recent times has a supernatural thriller succeeded so swimmingly in the scaring the sweat out of the audience.
Make no mistake. Dobaara is a bonafide shiver giver, filled with moments images and incidents that you will find hard to brush under uncomfortable laughter. The film raises the bar of Bollywood “horror” to the extent that you want to crown Prawaal Raman the master of desi scares.
We have seen before what Prawaal Raman is capable of within the horror/supernatural genre . The director’s 404 : Error Not Found is indicative of his ability to stretch the bandwidth available to cinematic terror and bring into play a participative anxiety which Indian audiences are not aware of, let alone familiar with.
Some anxious thoughts are bound to pass through your mind asPrawaal sets out to dismantle and deconstruct Mike Flanagan’s cult hit .The initial scenes between the lately incarcerated Kabir and his domineering sister Natasha are so casually-toned , you wonder if the director is taking us for granted.
But momentum is the master of this chilling drama .Prawaal Ramanbuilds the tension through offhand details.The remake is rugged and resonant, rippling with suggestions of sexual captivity that perhaps the original missed. Kudos to Adil Hussain for so convincingly playing a man seduced and enslaved by a mysterious woman(Madalina Bellabriu).
Prawaal Raman uses enclosed cosy domestic spaces to evoke a nervous anxiety . A trickle of sweat , not discernible to the naked eye, runs across the narrative.The film draws its breath in sharply but never allows us to hear the sound of that inhalation. The plot runs its horrific course as one Indian family in Britain is destroyed beyond redemption. The director retains the sharp edges of the original without letting the shards puncture the film’s presiding feeling of foreboding doom and catastrophe.
The narrative is pincer-sharp.Raman wastes no time in niceties, plunging into the awfully tragic lives of siblings Natasha(HumeQureshi) and Kabir(Saqib Saleem). As we go back and forth into their childhood and their troubled maturity,there are no distortions or disambiguation .The plot’s momentum is never slackened for the sake of elaboration.While the sparing frugal background score(AvedisOhanian, Aditya Trivedi) punctuates the scenes gently sprays them with a subtle terror, the editing(Hakeem Aziz, Nipun Gupta) is clever and sassy but never cocky.The time passages are allowed to merge with fluent candour into memory and delusion.
The casting is almost impeccable. Real-life siblings Huma Qureshiand Saqib Saleem bring to the eerie environment a sense of assured kinship while Lisa Ray furnishes a credible filialness to her role as a tormented mother who must protect her children against a father who has been serious satanized by a seductive witch(Italian actressMadalina Bellariu, doing a mirror-image diabolic reincarnation of Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction).
It is Adil Hussain as the possessed patriarch who proves once again,that he can play anything satan or saint with equal conviction. This actor doesn’t act.
Dobaara is a striking departure from what the supernatural genre means to Indian cinema. It blithely disposes of all the terror tropes of shiver givers in Bollywood . This a fresh fearful take on the anguish and tragedy of a domestic bliss gone hideously wrong .PrawalRamam is in full control of the original material. CinematographerAnuj Dhawan who has earlier shot the memorable biopics HansalMehta’s Shahid, Rajkumar Gupta’s No One Killed Jessica and PrawalRaman’s Main Aur Charles, enters the dark unfathomable world of the occult placed in places that seem so comfortable and cosy you wonder how the normal can look so sinister.
Be scared this weekend. Very scared.