Aatma

aatma_poster
Aatma
Release date: March 22, 2013
Directed by: Suparn Verma
Cast: Bipasha Basu, Doyel Dhawan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shernaz Patel, Jaideep Ahlawat, Mohan Kapoor, Dashan Jariwala, Shivkumar Subramaniam

Aatma, as the title suggests, has something to do with souls and the supernatural. A child thrown in the mix along with ghosts, does sound similar to the staple films of the horror genre and Aatma has the same premise.

Maya (Bipasha Basu) and Abhay (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) are a couple with marital problems. Their daughter, Nia (Doyel Dhawan) is a one dimensional, ordinary child character with nothing much to do except for forcibly crying and being just a cute kid. After instances of domestic violence, Maya decides to separate from Abhay.

After the divorce, Abhay’s love for Nia is still the reason why he can’t let go of her and accept the court’s order; as much as outrightly disregarding the law in front of the judge. The custody is rested with Maya and Abhay simply can’t take it. Scared by her husband’s obsession, so much that even after his death Maya has an inherent fear and soon the aatma (soul) business starts.

There’s a strong list of names in the supporting cast category here, but that’s wasted by the sloppy and inconclusive writing which has an absurdly high number of pleasantries exchanged at very awkward junctures. It’s almost as a murder happening in the next room, and you ask them to keep it low, and thank them for obliging. The last example isn’t an exact scene from the film, but you get the gist.

The Hindi dialogue is so vague, and cliché that you just can’t take it seriously. The spooky bits are limited and satisfying, but the plot devices are jaded and repetitive. Nawazuddin’s character, though limited, is well etched. His first frame makes for an impact which is more than  Shernaz Patel, Shivkumar Subramaniam and Bipasha Basu’s combined first thirty minutes.

Suparn Verma’s attempt at developing the emotional aspect rather than just deploying jaw-dropping, cringe-inducing VFX is commendable, but the conversations that take forward the narrative range from absolutely painful to barely passable. Sophie Winqvist’s lingering camerawork creates the much required haunted theme, thus rendering a special touch to the overall mediocrity.

Aatma also cuts down on the usual screaming by not sticking to a jarring background score. The minimalistic approach could have led to a better product, which the entire horror genre could have referenced for a new direction, but it’s just another misspent venture.

My rating: ** (2 stars out of 5)

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