Anupama Chopra's review: Aatma


By Hindustan Times

Direction: Suparn Verma
Actors: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bipasha Basu, Shernaz Patel
Rating: **

Early on in Aatma, a cop investigating the murder of a young boy says: 'I have a bad feeling about this'. He took the words right out of my mouth.

Aatma is an exercise in extreme parenting. An abusive husband, Abhay (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui), gets a divorce, dies but comes back as a ghost so he can take his little daughter with him. The mother, Maya (played by Bipasha Basu), fights back with the help of psychologists, pundits, an amulet and a friend who offers her this priceless advice - keep something sharp under your pillow so that the recurring nightmares will stop. Aatma is stilted, predictable and, like most Bollywood horror films, unintentionally funny. For one thing, you have Shernaz Patel, who doesn't look that much older than Basu, playing her mother. You know that anyone who crosses Abhay will die so the only suspense is how it will happen.

Director Suparn Verma reworks the usual horror-movie tricks, so a character's reflection in the mirror behaves differently from her, bathrooms are especially ominous, there's a shot of the little girl on a scooter that directly references Stanley Kubrick's horror masterpiece, The Shining, and there's an old toothless crone who seems to have dropped in from a Vikram Bhatt film.

And at the centre of all this stands a heaving and crying Basu, clad through much of the film in well-fitting nightwear that seems a tad provocative for a woman battling a murderous ghost.

It's impossible to be scared by any of this.