Continuing the recent trend of directors recreating their regional-language hits in Hindi, Durgamati is an official remake of Telugu horror-thriller Bhaagamathie (2018) directed by G. Ashok. Exploring the same genre (as the much-hyped Laxmii), this time we have an investigative crime thriller instead of a comedy, incorporating elements of horror in the script following a repetitive pattern.
Durgamati appears to be fresh in its initial moments revolving around a secret interrogation of a convicted woman unofficially imprisoned in a haunted house. However, it soon moves onto a familiar path presenting the nexus between the corporates and politicians exploiting the poor villagers. As usual, some forced comic moments are regularly thrown in along with the typical love angle, but neither the affair nor the tragedy involving the couple looks convincing from any angle. Besides, the horror rarely works trying the same old techniques, reminding you of films like Bhool Bhulaiyaa (which was also a remake of its regional hit).
At a tiringly long length of 155 minutes, the film becomes a victim of unnecessarily stretched sequences that keep struggling to generate the desired impact. For instance, a typical ‘rescuing tantric’ sequence comes 96 minutes into the film when the viewers have already got enough of the flat horror. But what actually hampers it the most is its strange casting, loud portrayals, and an annoying background score. While the characters enacted by the lead fail to make any kind of connect with the viewers, their language and dialogues sound weird, especially the lines given to Mahie Gill as the investigative officer.
Playing the lead, probably for the first time, Bhumi seems to be completely out of place, particularly in the sequences where she is made to madly scream (read ham) as the forgotten queen. But then she also doesn’t get any kind of support from her unimpressive supporting cast featuring Arshad Warsi, Mahie Gill, Jisshu Sengupta, Karan Kapadia and more.
In all, Durgamati comes as yet another disappointment in the horror genre that just manages to make a saving grace kind of impact through the twist in its climax. Interestingly, that too reminds you of a cult English film’s culmination, mention of which will honestly ruin the entire premise of the film.
Post the Laxmii debacle, Durgamati once again brings up the thoughtful question that how come the same director delivers such a poorly-adapted film, which is an almost frame-by-frame remake of his original regional hit? The lack of knowledge of the language surely holds the key but here Durgamati has a serious issue of miscasting and poor performances too that also point towards the vision and creative process followed by the production houses.
To be fair, even the original Bhaagamathie isn’t an exceptional one, repeating the same old things inspired from other known hits. But it still can be called better, majorly because of its lead performance of Anushka Shetty, a fine supporting cast, background score and art direction, far ahead of Durgamati by all means. In fact, it never seems that the Hindi version has been directed by the same person as there are vast differences between the performances on screen that even go to level of hamming at regular intervals.
Having said that, Durgamati might not be as awful as Laxmii, but it also doesn’t offer anything worth praising, either in the form of horror or as a political crime thriller. The film keeps hanging in the middle as a poor remake, and hence the original Bhaagamathie might be a better choice to watch, if you choose so, available with English subtitles on the same platform.