Producer: K Sera Sera & Varma Corp. Ltd.
Director: Prawaal Raman
Starring: Vivek Oberoi, Saif Ali Khan, Boman Irani, Nana Patekar, Shilpa Shetty, Isha Koppikar, Antara Mali, Sohial Khan, Sanjay Kapoor, Raghuvir Yadav, Revathy, Aftab Shivdasani, Sameera Reddy, Sushant Singh, Rajpal Yadav
Music: Salim-Suleiman
Lyrics: Abbas Tyrewala, Lalit Marathe, Taabish Roman

Genre: Horror Thriller
Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance
Released on: July 25, 2003
Reviewed by: Narbir Gosal
Reviewer's Rating: 7.5 out of 10


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Itīs definitely different, there is no doubt about that. Ram Gopal Varma presents protégée, director Prawaal Raman, with his latest home production titled Darna Mana Hai. The concept is simple, something which has been rarely tried on the Bollywood silver screen, an episodic style of film making. With six stories (actually seven including the main plot line) and no songs, Ram Gopal Varma once again chooses to defy Bollywood norms. However the film suffers a few major setbacks which bring down the film as a whole, making it just good, nothing outstanding.

Stranded on their way back from a trip to Goa, a group of friends seek out an abandoned ruin to take shelter. To pass the time they decide to keep each other entertained with some stories. However, what they donīt realize is that while theyīre waiting for help to arrive, something terrible is taking place around them. Borrowing inspiration from the Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt and Creep Show and mixing it with the basic premise for Campfire Tales ( a low profile Hollywood release), Raman obviously had fun with this project. The stories range from creepy to zany, but always manage to keep you entertained. 

A stranded couple (Sohail Khan and Antara Mali) who end up in a tense situation thanks to the husbandīs habit of playing pranks. 
A homework obsessed school teacher (Raghuvir Yadav) looses it after a delinquent student suddenly starts improving, triggering a childhood memory which puts an interesting spin on things. 
A college going loser (Aftab Shivdasani) who suddenly gains magical powers (being able to freeze people) and uses this power to bag the girl of his dreams (Isha Koppikar). 
A chain smoking photographer (Saif Ali Khan) who ends up staying the night in a hotel run by a wacky man (Boman Irani) who can not stand cigarettes. 
A paranoid housewife (Shilpa Shetty) buys some apples from a seedy vendor (Rajpal Yadav) and decides to get rid of them only to find that the fruit is haunting her. This story just gets crazier and crazier as it progresses. 
Finally a young man (Vivek Oberoi) picks up a hitchhiker one night (Nana Patekar) only to realize that this guy may be dead. Darna Mana Hai gets into some strange territory as far as stories are concerned.

Prawaal Raman made a great choice of subject for his debut film. His direction is pretty consistent. He has the technical aspects down, so the film is well made. Sound design and camerawork are two of the best things about the film. But some of the stories suffer due to haphazard direction and mediocre writing. Raman should have taken care to ensure each story left an impact. The main storyline is especially disappointing. When friends start disappearing, no one really makes an effort to go and find them. Whatīs worse is the climax which is so predictable and silly that it brings the movie down as a whole. It brings back memories of  Bhoot, another film which started so well and ended on a more tame note. With a title like Darna Mana Hai, maybe there should have been more scary portions to help the film live up to itīs title. The film was advertised as a horror, but is far from it, which could work against the film makers as the audience will be disappointed. Also some obvious references from Hollywood slashers take away from the credibility of the film. The films six stories hold your attention thanks to good editing which doesnīt allow them to go on for too long or bore endlessly. Cinematography is also good, as is the music which has no use in the film but made for a great soundtrack. Dialogues are impressive in some portions (like the Vivek Nana track). Screenplay is ok, some of the writing is a little sloppy which hurts the film, but overall itīs passable.

Performances are all generally well done, but only a few of the artistes make a lasting impression. Boman Irani deserves special mention as he makes his story much more watchable thanks to his mannerisms. Raghuvir Yadav also does an excellent job. Aftab Shivdasani makes an impact thanks to the edge that his role has. Roles like this one and Kasoor allow him to play around with his image which is good. Shilpa Shetty also deserves a mention for some of the touches she adds to her role. Vivek and Nana share excellent chemistry, and thanks to good dialogue-baazi, keeps the viewers attention. Rajpal Yadav has a small role but makes the most of it. Antara and Isha donīt do much for themselves and are wasted. Ditto for Revathy who is presented via some very unflattering camera angles. Saif looks cool, and is generally a good actor, but beside Boman he looks like an amateur. Sameera looked great in the promos but has very little to do in the film. Sanjay Kapoor and Sohail Khan are hardly there. The rest are hardly worth the mention.

Darna Mana Hai is definitely different for Bollywood. Itīs an experiment which could go either way at the box office. A lame main plot, as well as lack of the horror element and some sloppy writing hurt the film. But thanks to some good performances, a new concept for story telling and good technical values help prop it up. Darna Mana Hai is not a movie which everyone will enjoy but that doesnīt mean that it shouldnīt be applauded. Itīs obviously a step in another direction for Bollywood. We just hope that next time around Ram Gopal Varma actually sits down and concentrates on making a film which is slick throughout, but for now this wacky film will more than make up for the likes of Hawa, Jaal - The Trap and Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon.