Critics' review: Ek Thi Daayan is a blend of horror, psycho thriller



Film: Ek Thi Daayan
Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Huma Qureshi, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kalki Koechlin and Vishesh Tiwari
Director: Kannan Iyer
Plot: A magician (Emraan) with a disturbing past is haunted by a mysterious daayan (witch). Singing Punjabi songs, making out in tents, he is happily in love with his wife (Huma), when a suspicious Lisa Dutt (Kalki) enters his life.

Kannan Iyer's directorial debut is all set to rush his journey towards success on the the new path. Kannan's storytelling is lucid and graspable. Based on Mukul Sharma's short story, Ek Thi Daayan, is getting mixed reviews.

There is little to complain about the screenplay, direction and acting in Ek Thi Daayan, it seems. The film is an apt adaptation of old-school, native folklores of witches and witchcraft. Ek Thi Daayan is a cult horror film, claim the makers. The second half, however, is being criticized. Now, as critics review begin to pour in, we bring you an insight into the movie.

Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV
Most of the critics have praised Mukul Sharma's screenplay and Kannan's direction. Saibal Chattterjee says, "What really is Ek This Daayan: an out-and-out horror film, an creepy paranormal thriller or a twisted psychological drama? It actually blends elements from all three genres and weaves around them the anguished love story of a man whose obsession with the occult gets the better of him."

As the movie moves into the second half, it slips a few notches down. Saibal writes, ""But that’s about it. Take the surface gloss away from Ek Thi Daayan and all you have is a rather muddled film that meanders into a tame denouement that borders on the risible. The director overplays his hand and puts all his cards on the table a tad too quickly."

The novel treatment of horror genre, nonetheless, impresses Saibal as she writes, "The riveting parts of Ek This Daayan are far outnumbered by the limp moments. Yet it is worth a watch owing to the idiosyncratic treatment of a done-to-death genre."
Verdict: Once the element of shock and surprise are out of the equation in the first half, the film falls into a predictable pattern.
Rating: ** 1/2

Gayatri Sankar
Ek Thi Daayan may boast of high profile and critically acclaimed actors but it comes across as an average horror movie with done-to-death idea of witches. Gayatri writes, "The riveting parts of Ek This Daayan are far outnumbered by the limp moments. Yet it is worth a watch owing to the idiosyncratic treatment of a done-to-death genre."'

The art direction and portrayal of scary sequences are impressive. As Sankar writes, "The Art Direction team has done a commendable job by giving a visual representation to their eerie side of their creativity. The sets emit a sense of supernatural presence and help boost an otherwise middling story."
Verdict: You may watch the film for the fine show put up by the actors.
Rating: ***

Mayank Shekhar, Dailybhaskar
Mayank Shekhar finds Ek thi Daayan an innovative step in its genre. He finds the realistically scray! He writes, "The daayan in this film looks real for sure. She has very specific attributes. She was born on February 29, a birthday that she shares with Superman then, and also former PM Morarji Desai, if you may. She works between midnight and 4 am, and her powers lie in her long hair that is tied into “choti” or knots...The closer this film, or any horror type flick, revolves around the realm of the real, the scarier it gets..."

Shekhar further elaborates that the film becomes more believeable because of its proximity to the reality. He writes, " This is a film for the believers of the bhoot..... the film effectively manages to create a plausible, unholy alternate world of dayans and pishach without quite wholly discarding basic human logic."
Verdict: The screen holds your attention but sometimes the scale doesn’t match the film’s ambition.
Rating: ***

Taran Adarsh, Bollywood Hungama
Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama likes the film for its brave and innovativbe approach to an old-world, folk concept of witchcraft. Taran writes, "Intense and scary, Ek Thi Daayan is positioned in today's times and the folklore of a witch, integrated smartly in the screenplay, makes it a fascinating cinematic experience."

The story is a bit slow and predictable in the second half but Adarsh says the climax more than makes up for it. The actors have put up a brilliant show, especially Emraan Hashmi, adds Adarsh.
Verdict: Exceptionally novel and attention-grabbing, it's a first of its kind. Watch it for the sheer novelty it puts on display in its genre!
Rating: ***

Prathamesh Jadhav, Bollywood Life
There is one critic who did not quite like what he got with Ekta Kapoor and Vishal Bhardwaj's joint venture. Jadhav says that he had expected far more from the duo.

Slamming the movie, Prathamesh writes, "If the first half of the film – starring Emraan Hashmi, Konkona Sen Sharma, Kalki Koechlin and Huma Qureshi – is impressive, taut and even intriguing, the second half is lengthy, disjointed and highly unconvincing – especially the climax where you have an out-and-out fist fight between the good supernatural and the evil paranormal forces or to be more precise, between the pishach and the daayan."

Among the actors, Konkona Sen Sharma won the act for Prathamesh. The critic writes, "She portrays the complex and layered character through her expressive eyes with amazing effortlessness."
Verdict: Ek Thi Daayan is spine-chilling in parts, intriguing in the first half but the lack of coherence in writing, the bizarre climax and its arduous length kill the witchcraft brutally towards the end!
Rating: **1/2

Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Reuters
Shilpa says she is impressed with Ek Thi Daayan and was sitting on the edge of the chair during the first half of the movie She writes, " Except for a few scenes, director Iyer keeps you on the edge of your seat with the spectre of a witch seen through the eyes of a child."

However, the second half of the movie failed to carry forward the tension of the first. Shilpa writes, "In the second half though, the story quickly unravels. The plot falters, the scary moments seem repetitive (how often can a lizard on a wall scare you?) and the climax is especially tacky and unintentionally funny."
Verdict: “Ek Thi Daayan” has some eerie moments, but on the whole, it is not a scary film. Nor is it effective horror. Watch it only if you must.

Mohar Basu, KoiMoi
Mohar Basu does not Ek thi Daayan is a cult in its genre. In fact, Basu could not make sense of characters like that of Kalki Koechlin in the movie. Mohar writes, "Plotted around stereotypical myths of Black Magic, the film tends to get predictable at places. Kalki’s character did not make any sense. The climax was shabbily done and was a clear disappointment."
Verdict: Not a cult film, the film deserves a pat only for the powerful performances of Konkona and Emraan.
Rating: ***

Twitter buzz:
@ImShreenidhi: @ETDtheofficial @emraanhashmi @konkonas @kalkikanmani @humasqureshi " Ek Thi Daayan" a great great movie woah!! Paise wasool Emraan??????

@wada_shikari: #EkThiDaayan's Yaaram shares, in lyrical form, the most awkward, desperate interview for a Personal Assistant position.

@srushtik: Critics / people who say bad about emraan's movies are daayan :p #EkThiDaayan

@sha_guf_ta: Movie review: Ek Thi Daayan is genuinely frightening, & hence I'm gonna watch it!

@tarantarantaran: Despite a slightly weak climax #ekthidaayan might just be the best film I've watched this year ... WOWzaaa :)

Our verdict
The film is a win-win bet for all the big names involved. Kannan Iyer is getting all the credited he could have imagined for a directorial debut, the actors from Emraan Hashmi to Kalki, Konkona, Huma and even Vishesh Tiwari - everyone's effortlessly convincing performances have showered praises on all. The second half of Ek Thi Daayan, however, lags behind and breaks the spell.

Watch the film if you love the actors and the well-executed films. Do not watch if you expect to come out of the theatre feeling like a winner, that dream is most likely to be broken after the interval.