There are films where ghosts scare people with ugly faces, scary mannerisms and eerie surroundings. There are films where ghosts scare people with sheer dialogue delivery that continues to haunt you way after the film's screening is over. And then there are films like DARLING where ghosts stay on to be 'perfectly normal' with standard dialogue delivery, normal facial expressions that never once go over the top and no 'sudden-behind-the-curtains-experience'! Actually so 'normal' does an entire situation seems that as an audience you tend to laugh at the situation (and at the protagonist) rather than being scared at all.
Picture this. A pair of investigating cops (enacted delightfully by Upendra Limaye and his scarier-than-a-ghost junior with a screen name Malti) ask Fardeen some not-so-comfortable questions about his missing secretary [Esha Deol]. As he tries to save his skin by coming up with a nervous bundle of lies, Esha's ghost mocks him at every answer of his and threatens to spill the beans if he says a word more.
Or the scene where Fardeen is making love to his wife [Isha Kopikar, controlled and natural] and the ghost mocks him for the sweet nothings that the couple once shared. Or those terrific interactions in a coffee joint, psychiatrist's visit to Fardeen's home or the emotional outburst after Esha's father pays a visit to Fardeen.
In each of the scenes, the entertainment comes from the film's USP which is Esha interacting with Fardeen even as he tries to answer a volley of questions around him. Kya karen, kya naa karen is what goes in Fardeen's mind which leads to laughter in Bollywood's first ever comedy film with a horror undercurrent to it. In DARNA ZAROORI HAI, Ram Gopal Varma had promised that 'you would giggle with laughter'. Well, it may not have turned out to be true in his episodic horror series but with DARLING he achieves that.
There are more than just a couple of scenes where you may not really jump off your chair but at least experience a small jolt. But a microsecond later, you get into a nervous giggle followed by full throated laughter as the entire auditorium joins the fun at the expense of the poor protagonist who is alarmed, scared, tense, horrified, perplexed, annoyed and finally simply irritated (in that order).
To the film's credit, it maintains a constant graph throughout it's two hour narrative. A couple of sequences are long drawn but they are with a purpose. The first one when Fardeen Khan decides to bury dead Esha's body is a lengthy scene but serves it's purpose as it captures the multiple emotions in the protagonist's mind. Jump cuts are used effectively to project the change in thoughts as he tries to find a solution.
But maximum fun is reserved for the last 7-8 minutes of the film. You rightly feel that the scene is going on and on and Ram Gopal Varma has trapped himself into creating an emotional melodrama where Isha is dying, Fardeen is helpless and Esha is still longing for that true love from Fardeen. Tears flow and you start wondering if this was a 'soap opera' kinda culmination you were looking for in a movie which was so tout till a few minutes back.
One starts wondering why is Fardeen professing his love for Esha and she is willing to forgive him for his wrong-doings. And this is when RGV comes up with a masterstroke and takes the story to a completely unexpected and justified end. Last 30 seconds of the film not just change the graph of the scene but also the characters' lives (literally) from thereon and completely justify the reason behind a lengthy scene.
The film is strong on the technical department too. While Amit Roy gives a consistent light blue look to the film, Prasanna Shekhar's background score is subtle yet creates the required impact. Editing is good while choreography of