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'AATMA' LACKS ENTERTAINER'S SOUL
'AATMA' LACKS ENTERTAINER'S SOUL

By Satyajit - Eye TV India Bureau

Critic's I-view

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Horror films, the genre that got least preference and acceptance from Indian audiences and faced many hurdles to survive, still breaths with a film like 'Aatma'. The genre was given a big thrust from Ramsay Brothers, pioneers of horror films for many decades with films like 'Purana Mandir', 'Samri' etc. However, this never became the trendsetting style in today's time despite the fact films like 'Raaz' and 'Bhoot' have been a success. These films wrote history for their novelty in subjects with filmmakers daring to experiment dark and different facades of life. The trend was rehashed by bunch of new directors with films like 'Rain', 'C U at 9' etc but got thumbs down results. Ramsay's have been the only and lonely in this genre that worked continuously on spine-chilling horrifying dramas despite regular failures. 'Aatma' delivers what audiences expect from their flicks --- horrifying and gory characters, daunting background score, blood spilling action and the script accommodating these characteristics. The film succeeds to some extent but fails to deliver what audiences expect in the present changing trend of cinema.

Recently, RGV's multi-starrer 'Darna Zarrori Hai' sank without trace clearly due to the audience's repugnance. It was conceived on experimental pattern of episodic directorial work from half a dozen directors but Ramsay's 'Aatma follows the routine path of conventional horror thriller. Low promotion, ineffective musical soundtrack and minimal face value have further decimated its prospects at the box-office. The only promising aspect the film enjoys is that it is pitted against low profile 'Ankahee' and 'Aparichit' that won't find much acceptance from movie buffs. Like many horror flicks it comes out with a new star cast (debutante Amreina, Kapil Jhaveri, Vikram Kumar) in the lead roles.

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The film comes with natural ingredient such as heroine should be upbeat and trendy, meaning, she should be skimpily dressed most of the time and readily display her assets. The raunchy and seductive moves should titillate the audiences whether it's coming out from the shower or hip-gyrating love song. The clock ticks at 1.11 A.M and ghostly acts occur with electricity running out. The god-man or a Sadhu acts as savior by lending his helping hand in nabbing the evil spirit. Besides the lead pair, the film suffers from poor to average acting performances.

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'Aatma' meaning "soul" is a saga where the deceased soul avenges his untimely death. It follows the same path of conventional Ramsay's horror films where the protagonist is betrayed by his dear ones followed by his revenge. The film holds no surprises for any type of audiences because of similar plots and familiar characters spiced with loads of oomph and sleaze in the past. Neha comes with her boldest image makeover by displaying her physical assets. To add more spice to the flavors there is body exposure by debutante Amreina but the uninspiring gripping of the script fails to entice audiences. The film belongs to small segment of viewers who are entertained with horror films. The rest of the audiences neither have interest nor the stomach to digest shrieking spine chiller or murder mysteries.

The film starts off with a dark and daunting beginning with the killing of a demon possessed person and rescued by the main protagonist (Deep Dhillon). The narration shifts to the mainstream characters - Aman (Kapel Khan) and Neha (Neha). Aman is a renowned doctor and holds dignified position in "Life Care Hospital". Neha is sweet and caring for Aman and enjoys her life. On their wedding anniversary one strange event happens that changes their life forever. During midnight there is a knock at the door and there is hugely built man (Deep Dhillon). He first advises Aman and then warns him about the post-mortem report of Avinash Malhotra. Aman is shocked and is further traumatized when he is threatened by a set of urbanized goons (Sikander Kharbanda, Amreina). This time he is forced to manipulate post-mortem reports. Treacherous lawyer (Sadashiv Amrapurkar) shows his evil side and deceased Avinash's brother Vikram (Mukesh Tiwari) hostages Neha. Aman manipulates the report and rescues Neha. Life seems to be normal at one stage when Mr. Batra (Yatin Karyekar) enters their life. Aman has a friend in Siddarth (Vikram Kumar), police inspector in love with Neha's younger sister.

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One fateful day, Neha starts behaving abnormally and even tries to kill Aman. Neha is hospitalized. Later, it is learnt that an infuriated soul has entered inside her body that is creating bedlam and unrest. Aman examines Avinash' body and gets the shock of his life. Avinash happens to be the same man who had warned him on his anniversary midnight. The mystery deepens with this and Aman speculates that Avinash' soul ("Aatma") has entered into his wife's body. Avinash's soul avenges and it comes out with traumatizing ghostly visuals and blood splattering violence. The film ends on a predictable and even more predictable climax.

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'Aatma' happens to be re-launching pad for the cute actress Neha who made a sparkling presence in Vidhu Vinod Chopra's 'Kareeb'. The film sank and so did her career that was followed with flops like 'Rahul' and 'Muskaan'. This film gives her maximum footage in the lead role where she is victimized of avenging soul. Unlike her other appearances it brings her in deglamourized role where she dons ghostly appearance. Besides, there is Kapil Jhaveri, who comes with the new screen name Kapel Khan on the film credits. Kapil has been Saawan Kumar's discovery with forgettable flops like 'Saawan'. Vikram Kumar failed with his first screen presence in 'Souten' and returns with yet another ordinary act in 'Aatma'.

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Gangu Ramsay's cinematography is daunting, appealing and tailor-made. It has been one of the salient features of this horror flick with lackluster performance and promotion. Anu Malik's subdued music is a forced one and a couple of tracks retard the pace of the film. Raju Khan's choreography is reduced to hip-gyrating dance moves to titillate audiences. Neha stands out as the finest among the feeble star cast followed by Kapel Khan. Vikram Kumar needs acting classes to polish his skills. Amreina displays her physical assets without hesitation but fails to draw attention. Deepak Ramsay's directorial skills are strictly reduced to Ramsay's style of horror filmmaking. If you have taste for such horror flicks then it might entertain you otherwise it will disappoint audiences.

'Aatma' lacks the soul of conventional potboiler or entertainer with its predictable script and below average performances. It will be non-starter at the multiplexes and can do average business at small centers.

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