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Durgamati Movie Review: Schizophrenic Cinema

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Schizophrenic Cinema

Is it a horror film? Is it a rap on corruption? Is it about politicians? Is it a love story? Is it a thriller? Is it about serving society? Or is it a comedy?

One has heard of Multiple Personality Disorder in disturbed patients. But here’s a whole film that exhibits the syndrome, clueless about what it sets out to be.

With writing and direction credited to Ashok, the opening seems promising. Antique idols are being stolen from a row of temples. An incorruptible politician (Arshad Warsi as mantri Ishwar Prasad) is sought to be framed by other people in power with the connivance of the CBI (Mahie Gill as Satakshi Ganguly). To build their trumped-up case against the honest minister, they seek information from his former PA Chanchal Chauhan (Bhumi Pednekar), an upright IAS officer.

So far so good.

But Chanchal is serving time for the murder of her husband Shakti, another principled man. His brother ACP Abhay Singh (Jishu Sengupta) who has been summoned by the CBI to help with the case against Ishwar Prasad, has another agenda: he awaits the time Chanchal, his noble brother’s murderer can be despatched from this world. 

Thus far it’s raining only good people.

Once the CBI and Abhay’s forces set up a tent outside haunted Durgamati Mansion, in the same style as the Spanish series Money Heist, and start Chanchal’s inquisition, the multiple personalities of the film surface.

Is it a horror film? If it is, except for exhausting tropes like cobwebs, gargoyles, lightning and sound effects, birds aflutter suddenly, a chair rocking on its own, stuff falling off and camera angles, there are no ‘jump and scream’ moments. Even though Chanchal is insensitively (and inexplicably) housed all by herself in the haunted Durgamati Mansion even at night. 

Is it a comedy? The cops who shiver at the sight of the ghost inside the mansion take away whatever little fear factor lingers in the screenplay.

The investigation by a starchy Satakshi who’s unfeeling and all about her work soon derails. Her investigation swings more to solving what’s happening to Chanchal inside the mansion than in building her case against Ishwar Prasad or in shifting the IAS officer to a place with fewer cobwebs.

The great disappointment is Bhumi Pednekar as Chanchal. Once she turns into Durgamati, it becomes tragic-comic with an overdose of hamming.

Ishwar, the God-fearing minister spouts dialogues like, ‘The power is in the people, not with people in power.’

With a psychiatrist (played well by Anant Mahadevan), a tantrik, an irritating kid who helps her CBI mother, and all the cards turned upside down, Ashok ends up with a mash where all ingredients disappear. 

At the end of this overlong misadventure, it’s the viewer who’ll need a psychiatrist.  

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