A scene from “Dybbuk.” (Trailer Grab)

I heard “Dybbuk” is a remake of a Malayalam film, “Ezra.” A remake implies both a commercially successful original and a decent watch. But had “Dybbuk” released in the movie halls, it would have been a lost force, beginning with a title that no one will understand until it is explained. The film ends up as just another banal horror movie.

Dybbuk (pronounced dib-buk) is a Jewish folklore term for a chest that is said to capture the spirit of a discontented soul that is malicious by intent. Such a box remains in a Mauritian antique shop in which a night watchman, Masood (Resh Lamba) tries to open it one night. Immediately, strange things begin to happen and he is brutally murdered. Though a shade familiar in the way it is executed on screen, this sequence is well-done and finally chilling. A police officer (Gaurav Sharma) is flummoxed by this gruesome death. And this is virtually the only true-blue thrilling sequence in the entire film, over in less than 10 minutes.

Of course, it brings a false promise that good stuff is to come!

A Mumbai-based Sam Isaac (Emraan Hashmi) gets a two-year assignment in Mauritius as the new head of a company that deals with disposal of nuclear waste underwater. In childhood, he has had a history of mental trauma after the deaths of his parents in an accident. Sam is married to Mahi (Nikita Dutta), and the couple has just had a miscarriage. Why a Christian-Hindu interfaith marriage is shown and highlighted is not really clear.

Mahi decorates their palatial Mauritius mansion in a vintage manner and in the process buys the dybbuk…and opens it.

Meanwhile, a Catholic priest (Denzil Smith) who is fond of Sam, decides to visit the couple from India, and senses evil in their home, where already disturbing things have begun to happen. He homes in on the box, knows what it is and finds the Jewish connection. He contacts a rabbi, whose son (Manav Kaul) decides to rid the couple of the evil spirit with a long and involved process. The spirit soon enters the unborn child of a now-pregnant Mahi. What happens next?

The twist, when it comes at the end of a prolonged second half, is bland by itself and blander in the way it is developed on screen. The standard tropes of horror cinema (the ghost’s apparition, the exorcism, the deaths) are used even as the setting (Mauritius), the plotline (the story is connected to nuclear waste, but no spoilers here, so those who insist on watching this film must get their dose of thrill!), and multi-religious angles add some novelty. But this brings down both the scare and entertaining quotients and exorcises (!) the pith in a tale that could have been fresh and different take in this genre.

Emraan Hashmi goes through the motions, as do all the supporting artistes. Nikita Dutta, even with limited expressions, does a neat job. The songs (credited to Gourov Dasgupta with no lyricist listed) go missing. Wonder when this season of evil spirits victimizing the USP of Indian cinema—good, largely lip-synched songs even if as a cinematic license—will end. A human exorcist is needed for sure—at least one!

Rating: **

Produced by: Bhushan Kumar, Krishan Kumar, Kumar Mangat Pathak, Abhishek Pathak

Directed by: Jay K

Written by: Jay K, Chintan Gandhi & Manu Warrier

Music: Gourov Dasgupta

Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Nikita Dutta, Denzil Smith, Gaurav Sharma, Manav Kaul, Yuri Suri, Anil George, Imaad Shah, Darshana Banik, Bijoy Anand, Resh Lamba, Tareeq Ahmed Khan, Sushmita Sur & others

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