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Rajeev Masand’s Review Of Darling

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Exactly one week after delivering that dead duck of a film, Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag, the director shows up with Darling, something of a comic-horror film in which Fardeen Khan finds himself being stalked by the ghost of his mistress who died in a scuffle with him.

Esha Deol plays the ghost in question, who returns to complete some unfinished business with her cad of a boss who got her pregnant and then refused to leave his wife for her. Scared out of his wits, Fardeen can’t come clean to his wife Isha Koppikar, and doesn’t know how to get those pesky cops off his back.

What’s interesting about Darling is the manner in which director Ram Gopal Varma turns around the cliches you normally associate with ghosts in Hindi films: they’re mysterious, you don’t see them too often, they appear in a fog-like smoke, they don’t speak too much. But the ghost in Darling is a yackety-yack bitter ex who smacks him around, disturbs his love-making session with his wife, sobs in his living room, and calls him a bastard at least fifty times in the film.

The film’s best moments are the ones in which Esha Deol’s ghost shows up at all the wrong times to make Fardeen’s life a living hell. Like the time she shows up under his table while he’s dictating a letter to his secretary. Or the time she shows up in hospital when Fardeen Khan and his wife visit a friend recovering from an accident. Or then the time she shows up in his office when he’s being interrogated by the police.

Although disguised as a horror film, the only bit in Darling that really spooks you is Esha Deol’s determined, defiant gaze as a dead body. The film works more as a comedy, and introduces a bunch of supporting characters who provide the laughs: Fardeen Khan’s annoying co-worker with the sing-song voice, an investigating officer with a Sherlock Holmes hangover, and best of all, the detective’s dead-silent female assistant who looks like something straight out of a Ramsay film.

 

Darling Movie

Pic : Darling Movie

It’s all a good laugh until Isha Koppikar decides to confront her husband and ends up driving not only Fardeen Khan mad, but also pretty much the entire audience mad with her constant fisherwoman-like nagging.

The film’s ending is stretched out way too long, and Fardeen Khan’s monologue to Esha Deol in the climax is the final blow. In the end, Darling has some fantastic moments, but those moments don’t come together to make a fantastic film.

When the camera isn’t lingering lovingly on Fardeen Khan’s blue chaddis, cinematographer Amit Roy uses it well to give us some dramatic movement. Like the disturbing, dizzying manner in which it alternates between each character in that pre-climax scene when the cops come over to Fardeen’s house to question his wife.

Director Ramgopal Varma pushes the envelope considerably, but just a little short of what was required here. Of the three leads, only Esha Deol delivers what can be described as a stand-out performance.

So then that’s two out of five and an average rating for “Darling”, don’t go in thinking you’re going to watch Ramgopal Varma’s new horror film, you saw that last week already.

Rating: 2 / 5 (Average)

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