It's very difficult to define the genre of SAAYA. You expect it to scare you [at least that's what the promos project!], like RAAZ or the recent BHOOT. But, in actuality, it's a love story with some scary moments.
The outcome: Neither does Mukesh Bhatt's SAAYA, directed by Anurag Basu, fall in the league of RAAZ or BHOOT, nor does it strike a chord with those who prefer love stories woven around supernatural thrillers.
Dr. Akash [John Abraham] is grief-stricken when his pregnant physician wife, Maya [Tara Sharma], working as a volunteer in a relief camp in Nagaland, dies in a tragic bus accident.
Unable to bear her loss, Akash starts devoting all his time to the hospital. Gradually, Akash starts receiving messages about Maya trying to contact him from another world. The ill children in the hospital ward start speaking of seeing her in a tunnel during near-death experiences.
Maya's friend Tanya [Mahima Chaudhary] thinks Akash is crazy, but a nun [Zohra Segal] explains that Maya wants to convey a message to Akash, which is why she sends messages through the children.
Akash decides to get to the bottom, to search for the answers behind the signs the children have made, the questions that haunt himï¿½
The story of SAAYA is a straight lift of two Hollywood flicks, DRAGONFLY [Kevin Costner] and THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES [Richard Gere]. A subject like this holds tremendous appeal for those who believe in life after death or the supernatural forces. In this case, SAAYA does keep your attention arrested, but intermittently.
SAAYA runs on a straight and narrow line ï¿½ the presentation of incidents is most realistic and can be identified by the cinegoer of today. The scares director Anurag Basu occasionally injects into the film do catch you unaware at times, but the script doesn't really excite you towards the latter part of the film.
Director Anurag Basu's abilities come to the fore in a few well-treated sequences, like the night sequence ï¿½ first, when the projector comes on by itself and then the flooding in the house [interval point]. The dead wife trying to communicate through an ill child Nakul and a dead patient [Rana Jung Bahadur] are master strokes as well.
In fact, the second half of the film begins brilliantly, but as the plot thickens, the film loses its grip. The culmination for a story like this is of paramount importance, but in this case, it falls flat. Whatever impact a few sequences do create are undone by an absurd climax.
The climax should've been the highpoint of the film. In fact, the tribal track in the pre-climax was just not required and even the ending looks ridiculous. In a nutshell, the screenplay leaves far too many threads hanging loose.
Another drawback of the film is that it moves at a sluggish pace, making the viewer restless at times. Also, the treatment of the subject is class-oriented, which may not gel well with the audiences who may flock to the auditoriums expecting a RAAZ Part 2 in SAAYA.
The music is of a mixed variety. Though the songs carry meaningful lyrics, the film does not boast of a single hit track ï¿½ something that RAAZ had to offer, beside the chills. In fact, the film can easily do without a song or two.
Director Anurag Basu, who partly directed KUCCH TO HAI, is adept at creating suspense, tension and a layer of paranoia, but had he gone for a more convincing ending, it would've made a world of a difference. The tone of the film is chilling, but the finale is too contrived and changes the tone and direction of the film.
SAAYA is embellished with excellent cinematography, sound effects and background score that helps in creating the right mood and heightens the overall impact. Dialogues are well worded, with some lines sounding true to life.
SAAYA clearly belongs to John Abraham. No two opinions on that! Enacting a very difficult role, the newcomer actually performs like a veteran and delivers a performance that's bound to win him nominations in the award categories. His growth as an actor is tremendous!
Tara Sharma doesn't get ample scope to display histrionics. But whatever little she gets to do, she does an average job. Mahima Chaudhary is remarkable in her role. She seems to be in form after a very long time. Zohra Segal is okay, though her mysterious character could've been better defined. Raj Zutshi irritates.
On the whole, SAAYA falls short of expectations. The film has some engaging moments that keep you hooked on to the goings-on, but a handful of well-executed sequences can never really undo the harm done by a weak script and more specifically, a hard-to-digest climax. At the box-office, the film has some chances in select cinemas of metros, but at most places, the 'saaya' of success will elude it!