The ghost dressed in a clean, white full sleeved shirt, walks ever so casually, leans over with a gentle, affectionate, angelic smile, holds his little girl's tiny hand and tells her softly, "main tumhe lene aaya hoon”. Horror of horrors, the little girl smiles back happily at her darling, adorable papa, not knowing he is dead.
Aatma is admirably slick but the shadows fail to scare. Every frame is brilliantly lit, the camera follows the actors like a silent, smooth shadow, the sound and silence well used without overloud effects. The lines(Sudarshana Dwivedi,Suparn Verma) are minimal, the story has sufficient, but unexplored appeal, the screenplay and the edit, just tight enough not to bore you. The effort by writer/director, Suparn Verma shows but unfortunately remains sketchy overall.
The film opens with a video clipping of a little girl, Nia, (Doyel Dhawan) smiling at the camera, a hand on her shoulder is seen and Abhay's (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) voice is heard, talking to her fondly. The girl winces slightly as her hair gets pulled by her mother's(Bipasha Basu) comb. Nawazuddin's voice changes sharply as he reprimands his wife. The underneath violence is apparent. The little girl watches her videos daily and talks to her papa all the time on her toy phone and giggles away happily.
The hitch is that this is no child's play. This is not schizophrenia either. The father is dead. Having died in a freak accident following a divorce because of his abusive ways, he has returned to take his daughter away to his world. Everyone who bothers his daughter even slightly, be it a little boy in school or a teacher, he makes sure they stop instantly. The scenes at school build up in their horror. The screenplay here is quite predictable. It is the treatment of the scene that makes all the difference. The first half moves pretty swiftly, lags just a wee bit in portions focusing on Bipasha's mother (Shernaz Patel, unconvincing)and comes to an ending made most slick by the edit and cinematography(Sophie Winqvist).
The music does not interfere much with the story. The song that comes up with the end credits has fine lyrics by Kumaar .."Teri khatir jisme ko choda....."
Nawazuddin Siddiqui is more chilled out than chilling during his brief screen time. Bipasha Basu as the mother protecting her child, is strictly okay. Doyel as Nia is not bad for her age. Amongst the supporting cast, Jaideep Ahlawat as the sympathetic cop is good.
Aatma may not quite haunt you but will impress with its slickness. Only, the fear factor is missing.