Vishal Bhardwaj's MAKDEE is targetted at children, but the attempt doesn't satiate you in totality.
The storyline : Life in Chunni's village is all peace and quiet, and great fun. She fools the village with her impersonation of her twin sister, Munni; she has a great friend in Muggale Azam, who does her homework, and she also has all the opportunity to vex her 'masterji' (school teacher), Kallu (the village butcher) and her father.
In a mansion in the village, said to be haunted, lives the legend of a witch called Makdee (Shabana Azmi). The legend has it that whatsoever wanders into the mansion, comes out as an animal. No one in the village dares enter the mansion.
Things are gong fine for Chunni until one day when one of her pranks gets quite out of hand. As a result of this, Munni, her docile sister, enters the mansion, where the witch turns the little girl into a hen.
Chunni is hysterical when she discovers this. She runs from pillar to post to get help, but her credibility is at an all-time low and the entire village refuses to believe her, except the cops, Ghanta and Banta. But they turn up too late. Chunni enters the haunted mansion in search of her sister.
Chunni has never been terrified in her entire life. She enters the main hall and, to her horror, finds the witch waiting for her. She pleads with the witch to let her poor sister go, as it was no fault of hers. But the witch asks her to strike a deal. She will return Munni back into a human only if Chunni arranges for a hundred hens in exchange.
All of a sudden, Chunni is confronted with the biggest challenge of her life?
Unlike Hollywood, where films like E.T., SHREK and HARRY POTTER have been major success stories, Indian film-makers have rarely attempted films that are targeted at kids. There's been a BALAK, an APPU RAJA and a CHHOTA CHETAN in the past, but films targeted at children have been few, very few. In that respect, Vishal Bhardwaj deserves kudos for attempting a theme that's refreshingly different.
The story of MAKDEE is simple and easily identifiable for an Indian kid. But a film that's targeted at children must have thrilling moments in plenty. In that sphere, MAKDEE falters.
Although the plot had enough scope to appeal to kids and even adults, Bhardwaj goes wrong in two major departments the music and the overall length of the film.
The narrative is laced with too many songs, which act as speed breakers and which in turn needlessly add to the length of the film. What could've been told in a concise format, has been stretched so much that the outcome loses its impact by the time the story reaches the finale.
Even the climax of the film is a drawback. The supernatural element vanishes into thin air as soon as it is discovered that the witch is actually a con woman who's in search of the 'khazana'. Had Shabana remained a witch right till the end, the graph of the film would've been better than what it currently is.
But Bhardwaj does surprise you with the way he's narrated the story. His shot execution is polished and a couple of sequences, especially those between Shabana and Shweta, are remarkably executed. Even the portions when Shweta thinks that her twin-sister has been turned into a hen hold immense interest.
MAKDEE clearly belongs to the child artiste Shweta Prasad who dominates the show with a performance that merits an award. Enacting a double role, the kid goes through various emotions with aplomb and delivers a performance that's natural to the core.
Shabana Azmi is fantastic; her get-up deserves special marks too. Like always, Makrand Deshpande is extremely competent. Child artiste Alaap is very effective as well.
On the whole, MAKDEE is a sincere attempt, but the outcome is not completely satisfying. It doesn't have enough merits to hook the kids, nor does it have the charm to mesmerise the adults. At the box-office, it has some chances only if tax-exempted.