‘Aatma’ review: It 'scares' you with intelligent horror!

Resham Sengar

Thanks to ‘Aatma’ - the brainchild of director, screenplay and story writer Suparn Verma, Hindi cinema can now heave a sigh of relief after years of being pulled up for its stereotypical ‘scary’ films belonging to the supernatural genre.

After going through the one-and-half-hour-long movie, it turns out that the makers of ‘Aatma’ have kept their promise of presenting a freshly baked horror film with pleasant surprises thrown in here and there on the audiences’ platter. So here you won’t find the baggage that comes with the ‘usual’ horror films.

The story is kept real and believable and here’s how it goes: Maya Verma (Bipasha Basu) is trying hard to start her life afresh after the accidental death of her violent husband Abhay (Nawazuddin Siddique) who she got legally separated with after an unsuccessful marriage of 7 years. Now, as the story moves forward, Maya’s stream of consciousness reveals that Abhay was a husband from hell but a doting yet an overtly possessive father to his little daughter Nia (Doyel Dhawan). Nia’s affection for her father brings him back from the dead which results in hell breaking loose in Maya’s life. And this time the father is determined to take his daughter away with him to the netherworld. Now the only thing posing as a roadblock for the demoniac soul of Abhay is the strong mother-daughter bond that Nia and Maya share. This sets the base of ‘Aatma’s story. Now the question is, will the powerful and undefeatable evil Abhay have his way or will Maya’s motherly love win over the evil? Don’t rack your brains over this dear readers, simply go and watch the film (if you love the horror genre).

As the film’s writer, Suparn Verma had tried to make sure that he leaves no stone unturned in making the film connect on a logical and emotional level. For instance, one may question the logic behind the evil spirit going about killing every person that came its way in the film except Bipasha’s character but the reason behind that manoeuvre is revealed as the story progresses. But that does not imply that ‘Aatma’ is an excellent film. Rather it is more apt to say that it is an out-of-the-box film. The scary moments before the interval are more like foreplay. They titillate the viewer before the main course is served in the second half of the film with creativity flowing in the thrilling scenes. There are a couple of sequences that will give you the goose bumps while there are a few that will make you look into the screen without batting an eyelid. However, the best is preserved for the last – the climax!

The actors, on their part, have done whatever they could to make the movie appealing. A special word of praise for Nawazuddin Siddique – he plays the part of a demoniac soul like a pro but he looks equally vicious and real as a man hurling domestic abuses on his wife. Bipasha’s best moment in the film comes during the climax. Otherwise, her performance remains steady throughout. The baby faced Doyel Dhawan looks promising as a child artist. The supporting cast has acted fine but it was amusing to watch a mystery woman draped in black appear out of nowhere to shout about an omen (talk about stereotypes here).

Of the few songs it has, ‘Aaja Nindiya’, a lullaby well sung by Sangeet Haldipur. It stands out for its slow, melodious and on top of that, spooky notes. The music playing in the background has subtle tones and thankfully, there are no songs to break the film’s pace abruptly. Also, the way camera angles have been smartly used to project the supernatural happenings can be rightly termed as intelligent horror.

On a general note, ‘Aatma’ does not belong to the league of those horror films that leave a powerful impact on your mind for days, read: ‘The Exorcist’, ‘Grudge’ recalling a few. Instead, hopefully it will leave you without any fear of the unknown lurking in your heart. Signing off on an optimistic note, ‘Aatma 2’ takes the genre of horror films a notch higher.

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