The horror genre is getting increasingly popular with the top ranks in Bollywood. From A-list actors to reputed production houses, the output of horror movies has, all of a sudden, shown an upward trend in recent years. Besides, horror in Hindi films is no longer limited to ghosts or skeletons. It's about projecting the emotion called fear most valiantly.
With the 3D technology making a big splash across the globe, the trend of making horror films in 3D has already caught on in Bollywood. Vikram Bhatt's HAUNTED, DANGEROUS ISHHQ and RAAZ 3 and Ramgopal Varma's BHOOT RETURNS narrated spooky tales in 3D. While I am not against this technology, I am glad Suparn Verma decided against making AATMA in 3D because this one's a psychological thriller -- more of a human drama -- and the 3D glasses would've only acted as a blockade.
First things first, AATMA is *not* the quintessential horror film. It's not about a haunted house or a tormented spirit thirsting for vengeance. It has layers. It has supernatural elements. It tackles an abusive relationship. It's about a strong emotional bonding between a mother and child. Primarily, it's the fight between a woman and her dead husband over their child. An interesting concept without doubt, but what comes across on screen is such an anticlimax!
AATMA narrates the story of a mother who must fight to keep her daughter safe from the ghost of her father. Maya's [Bipasha Basu] peace lies shattered when she discovers that her husband [Nawazuddin Siddiqui] intends to take their daughter, Nia [Doyle], with him to his world. The world of the dead!
To give the credit where it's due, AATMA doesn't resort to appalling, nauseating visuals. It's low on gore, but high on atmosphere and mood. Unfortunately, Suparn presents the age-old beliefs without giving a new spin to the fight between the dead and living. The film is spiked with been-there-seen-that kind of situations. To make matters worse, Suparn uses evocative visuals and an unsettling story to create a spooky atmosphere, but it doesn't deliver any scare. Its biggest shortcoming is, it incorporates a lot of shocks in the narrative, but no real surprises. Yet another inadequate aspect is its resolution, which, ideally, should've been the highpoint. Even the pacing is too slow for a psychological thriller.
Sure, Suparn runs his mind's eye wild in a couple of sequences, but those chunks are few and far between. Cinematography captures the prevalent tension well. The sound quality, the lifeline of this genre, is appropriate. The background score, surprisingly, is not as impactful.
Bipasha tasted blood with RAAZ 3 and in AATMA, she gets to portray the central character yet again: A tormented housewife and a distressed mother. However, unlike RAAZ 3, AATMA doesn't offer her the podium to demonstrate her acting skills, although the talented actress gives her best shot. Nawazuddin, who won laurels in GANGS OF WASSEYPUR and TALAASH last year, forays into mainstream Bollywood with AATMA. Surprisingly, he too doesn't get any scope to prove his credentials. Doyel, the child artist, handles her part wonderfully. Shernaz Patel is alright. Darshan Jariwala is effective. Jaideep Ahlawat gets minimal scope. Shiv Subramaniam doesn't impress.
On the whole, AATMA stands on a weak script. Besides, there are hardly any scares here. Disappointing!