Zara hatke. That’s all we’ll say. Once in a blue moon Bollywood pops up a surprise that simply thrills by its sheer novelty of idea. Ram Gopal Varma has done it before, and he does it again with his new production, the Prawaal Raman-directed Darna Mana Hai. This isn’t a scary film. Nor does it pamper popular tastes in an attempt to make the box-office cash registers ring.
If Darna Mana Hai works as a first-rate thriller, the catch lies therein. While multiplex audiences in the big cities should lap it up, lovers of hard-boiled masala scare trips may not welcome the film that openly.
Six friends in a car that breaks down in the middle of thick jungle on a stormy night. The setting is perfect for some tongue-in-cheek, teenybopper thriller kicks. What do the six do after taking shelter in a dilapidated house within the jungle? Tell each other stories, what else. As the stories brought alive on the screen by star cameos, and independent of each other unfold, Raman’s film moves forward. You realise soon that lurking in the shadows of the night around the ruins, where the friends have sought refuge, is someone who has a few fatal plans for them.
Technically crafted on an impressive scale, Darna Mana Hai has no songs (you don’t miss them either – Raman’s edge-of-the-seat treatment leaves no room for frills). The performances by the dozen-odd protagonists (or is it more? You lose count) is competent and supports the novel experiment.
But the film isn’t without its flaws. Beyond the short stories, the main track of the film is rather unimaginative, with no surprise or twist to offer. That is also the reason why the climax, when it comes, is abrupt and rather low-key (coming after Bhoot, it makes you wonder: why do all films from the Ram Gopal Varma stable of late start off so well only to end in a whimper?).
In a nutshell, Darna Mana Hai is your film if you love something – as we said – zara hatke. Don’t bother about the title – there is hardly a moment of genuine scare in the film. It’s one whacky roller coaster ride that is licensed to thrill.