In the post 90s, many film-makers tried to revive the horror genre in Bollywood. The big producers kept away from this genre. This led the directors to any producer who’d be available. The scenario of highly resourceful production and zany, creative scripts was here. Too many directors tried to leave their mark on Bollywood horror, which led to films like Dafan.
Dafan starts off as a cool Bollywood psychological thriller. A woman, Pooja dreams of murders – a rip off of ‘100 Days’ if not ‘The Eyes of Laura Mars’. Pooja calls up the police when she dreams of such a murder. Here, she finds out that the police officer is an old friend of her’s, Vicky. The two get into a relationship that seems destined to turn into a wedding.
Pooja has an elaborate dream of three villains, led by Dharampal killing a rich man so they can usurp his property. To achieve this end, the three masterminds rope in a police officer, a lawyer and a blackmail a woman, Prema into helping them. The trio kidnap the Prema’s sister so that the woman helps them in their macabre plot.
The next day, Pooja gets a plum offer to go to a remote area for a project. She accepts that, and her Vicky promises to meet her there soon. But before that can happen, Pooja comes across the five people who she had dreamt about. She confronts them and the five kill her.
Her spirit now bays for revenge. She also meets another spirit, who reveals herself to be Prema’s sister who’s been blackmailed into helping the villains. One by one, the spirit begins killing the villains. As the last of them dies and tells Prema that her sister is dead. Prema now attacks Dharampal, but Dharampal kills her. He even succeeds in defeating Pooja’s spirit for a while – but Pooja finally kills Dharampal after a climactic fight.
Dafan is a 2001 film, a decade when not many fans cared about Bollywood horror films. You either got a big banner film like Jism or Bhoot or got the traditional, pulp trope that released in single screens. Dafan stars some recognized names like Mohan Joshi, Razak Khan, Raza Murad, Poonam Dasgupta, Prithvi and Amit Pachauri. That decade saw several other films that didn’t have a single recognizable name.
The twists and turns that the script takes can only be explained by one thing – Bollywood horror films offered an enormous amount of freedom to the writer and director, as long as the product released in theaters at the pre-determined moment, and the Dafan writer took complete advantage of that. This is one of the more tangled scripts that we have come across. This just goes to show how interesting a writer could make a horror film back in the ’00s.
A psychotic woman murdered coming to haunt and avenge her death – this is one of the most creative scripts SaamriCom has come across. Come to think of it though, the story has potential and even logic behind it. After all, wouldn’t it be logical for a woman with psychological powers to come back to avenge her death, instead of someone who doesn’t?
What takes away from the flavor of the film is the unwanted comedy track that has no connection to the film. This was quite common in the eighties and the nineties and directors put this up in a subtle manner. But by the ’00s, this tool of increasing the time of a film was left to only the lesser known filmmakers, and not many could do justice to this. Point to note, the comedy track has almost disappeared from modern films, with a new brand of action-comedy coming into place.
Dafan suffers when it comes to the horror sequences, though. Most of the deaths take place in a non-bloody manner. Even this film has a character wear a bear costume and try to frighten the characters on screen. In 2001, that’s the hallmark of a small budget flick.