Emraan Hashmi’s Dybbuk is the Hindi remake of the Malayalam film Ezra(2017). Alongside him, we see Nikita Dutta, who you might remember from Kabir Singh(2019). Jay K wrote and directed both the Malayalam and Hindi movies.
Emraan Hashmi’s Dybbuk received mixed reactions from the audience. Some appreciated it for bringing a less explored culture to Hindi cinema. How? In Indian cinema, Jewish culture is rarely portrayed, especially in the horror genre. Some didn’t like the lack of originality of the movie. Why? The plot of the movie is too similar to its Malayalam counterpart.
Dybbuk is a concept from Jewish horror folklore. In the past, several Hollywood movies have incorporated Dybbuk into their movies. Some portrayed it as an evil spirit whereas some portray it as a mysterious, haunted box. Movies such as The Possession(2012) and The Unborn(2009) revolve around the latter theme. With Emraan Hashmi’s Dybbuk, Jewish folklore finally made its Bollywood debut.
Here in our blog, we bring our take on the movie, describing specifically what we loved about the movie as well as what we disliked. We shall even equip you with a brief history of Dybbuk, so you could get a better understanding of the Jewish folklore.
What’s the lore behind the Dybbuk box?
Dybbuk ( pronounced as DI-BUK) is associated with Jewish folklore. It refers to a malicious spirit that takes over a human body. Some sources say that they can even take over inanimate objects. The evil spirit or dybbuk feeds off of its host, causing harm to their body and mind. Dybbuk does not leave its host easily. They have to be exorcised, or the Dybbuk leads to the death of the possessed human.
Dybbuk are spirits of dead people who are wandering and have not been put to rest. Therefore, they are often times looking for living souls to possess. The dybbuk box got the attention of people when an antique store owner tried selling it on eBay. The shop owner acquired the box from a lady who’s family had it with them for years. She inherited it from her grandmother who was a holocaust survivor. She tried summoning good spirits to get aid from the Nazis. Unfortunately, she ended up capturing the most malicious spirit.
Whoever is in possession of the dybbuk has faced terrible consequences such as frequent nightmares, bruises all over the body. Sources advise to not even search for a picture of a dybbuk box because it is the most cursed object.
Our Take on Emraan Hashmi’s Dybbuk:-
Sam (Emraan Hashmi) and his wife Mahi (Nikita Dutta) move to Mauritius. There are two primary reasons for their relocation. First, Sam is the vice president of a nuclear waste disposal company and therefore is leading an important project in Mauritius. Second, the couple believes that a change in surroundings, will be better for Mahi to cope and move on from her prior miscarriage. They also plan on building a family and starting fresh.
Very soon the couple moves to a magnificent bungalow in Mauritius. Mahi plans to decorate the bungalow in an archaic fashion, therefore goes to shop in an antique store. There she finds the Dybbuk box. Fascinated by it, she takes the box home. Mahi opens the box and, as you would have guessed it, the horror journey begins.
Inside the box, Mahi finds a small wine bottle, a chunk of hair wrapped carefully inside a piece of cloth, a mirror attached to the box. Mahi finds a small space in the box that she unlocks. Soon enough, we see an evil spirit taking control over Mahi and haunting the young couple.
The flickering of lights, mirrors shattering, footsteps on the ceiling make it obvious that the evil spirit has made it’s way into the couple’s lives. There is tension between the couple. Mahi appears tired, lost and, dejected. She is not interested in decorating the house anymore. She is often times found observing the Dybbuk box. Confused Sam ignores Mahi’s behavior as a result of fatigue and lack of sleep.
Subsequently, Sam too, notices that there is something wrong with the house. Meanwhile we learn that Mahi is pregnant. Here, enters Rabbi Markus (Manav Kaul). He has the daunting task of getting rid of the evil spirit and the Dybbuk box. He has to save the young couple, their unborn child, all while looking out for himself. Rabbi Markus investigates the Dybbuk box, and the viewers learn about how the Dybbuk came into existence. It’s now upon him to save the lives of everyone on the Mauritius Island.
What we loved about the movie?
First things first, the movie is aesthetically pleasing. The bungalow is magnificent. Typically the houses in the horror movie would be rustic and old, with creaking noises and chapped wallpapers. They will have dull and dark colors to highlight the horror vibe. But in this movie the bungalow is pleasing to the eyes. It deviates from the idea that the house itself is haunted. Every shot of the house makes you wish to live in one of these. The colors and the antique design might give you some inspiration.
Secondly, the movie took the effort to bring forward a new culture. Jewish culture is seldom represented on screen. The movie might give viewers some insight into the culture. It does spark interest among the audience to know more about Jewish culture, even if it’s through the horror genre. The movie portrayed a glimpse of secularism. There is a priest, a rabbi working together along with a police officer to save the troubled couple as well as an island. Sam and Mahi also have an interfaith marriage.
Next, the importance of the Dybbuk box was very well explained. The viewers won’t have a hard time comprehending it. The movie perfectly blended Jewish folklore with that of the lives of Mahi and Sam.
What we didn’t like?
As previously mentioned, the movie explains the Dybbuk box and its existence; it however, fails to elaborate a lot of other aspects in the movie. There were a lot of questions unanswered and plot holes. You might end up scratching your head and asking yourself ‘ how on earth did this happen?”
The later part of the movie feels too rushed. Because the movie felt too fast-paced and rushed, it failed to clarify many incidents. The horror movie lacked any horrifying effects. There wasn’t anything that was never seen before. Many scenes appeared as a copy from other popular horror movies. The sound effects, that create an air of suspense in horror movie were missing too.
As for the acting, all the characters didn’t seem too convincing. They don’t leave any lasting impressions on the audience. The audience finds it hard to feel the tension. The possessed souls failed to convince the audience. You can watch the movie late at night and still be able to sleep peacefully. If you ever get a dare to watch a horror movie, we would suggest you pick this.
All in all a plain, predictable story with predictable ending. Was there anything new in the Hindi remake of Ezra? No. Was the main theme, that is horror, present in the movie? Barely.
Who might like Emraan Hashmi’s Dybbuk?
For hardcore horror movie fanatics the movie might fall flat. However, for someone who enjoys a blend of new culture and horror, it might be worth one try. You might not want to come back to the movie. However, we do have to emphasize on the fact that, as you are watching the movie, it does keep you engaged. You want to know what happens next. We would suggest you not have high expectations. But, rather suggest to watch the movie to just keep you entertained.
If, however, you want something more hard-hitting and psychologically challenging, we recommend you check this list. We promise you will stay awake for many nights.