Jay K’s Hindi horror movie Dybbuk is a remake of his Malayalam-language Ezra (2017). At least you can’t complain that the director botched up the original.
The plot, also written by Jay K, draws on Jewish folklore and the Hollywood movie Possession. The Amazon Prime Video release stars Emraan Hashmi as Sam, an employee of a nuclear waste disposal company in Mauritius. His wife Mahi (Nikita Dutta) buys an antique box that happens to contain a dybbuk – a malevolent spirit that seeks to possess humans.
Mahi’s increasingly strange behaviour leads to the involvement first of a Christian priest (Denzil Smith) and then a Jewish rabbi (Manav Kaul). A multi-faith initiative is launched to chase the dybbuk out of Mahi’s body and trap it in the box from which it emerged.
The Hindi version is untethered to the Jewish presence in India, unlike the Malayalam production. Rather than place Dybbuk in a city like Mumbai, which has a rich Jewish history and several Jewish landmarks, Jay K and crew relocate to the picture-pretty Mauritius. The Hindi remake seems to have come with budget cuts too. The visual effects and cinematography were far more effective and atmospheric in Ezra.
The crisper duration (112 minutes as opposed to 147 minutes) manages to retain all the major plot points as well as the pre-climax twist. Some of the most effective scares have made it to the remake too. Yet, the essence of Ezra never quite enters Dybbuk. The remake is serviceable, rather than spirted.
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