Dobaara : See Your Evil Movie Review: It Is Actually Better Than The Original Oculus

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.

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