Evil Eye makers: Was an empowering feminist tale from start
Directors Rajeev and Elan Dassani on how Priyanka-backed Evil Eye makes a commentary on domestic abuse through its supernatural world
Priyanka Chopra Jonas's and Blumhouse Productions' latest horror thriller Evil Eye marries traditional Hindi film tropes like reincarnation and the cycle of karma with a powerful feminist message. Directors Rajeev and Elan Dassani say they loved writer Madhuri Shekar's concept that used a mother's fear of her daughter getting into the wrong relationship to make a larger point about domestic abuse. "It speaks of the mother's own traumas, and her fear that her once abusive relationship would have cursed her daughter. We used the supernatural to explore societal issues like domestic abuse," begins Rajeev.
The director duo credits actors Sunita Mani and Sarita Choudhury for enhancing the material considerably. The road, however, was laden with challenges. Rajeev says creating a supernatural thriller without legitimising superstitions was a tricky slope. "We wanted to use superstitions as a storytelling tool, but also respect that many believe in horoscopes and these ideas."
The film drives home the point that the onus of abuse is never on the woman. "What mattered the most to us was the film's message. It was crucial to show Usha [Choudhury's character] that she did not need to blame herself for what happened to her when she was younger, and that she and her daughter had the strength to transcend men like Sandeep [boyfriend]," adds Rajeev. Elan seconds the idea as he states, "It has been an empowering feminist tale from the beginning."
With Chopra backing it, the Amazon Prime Video offering has desi roots. Quiz Elan on how the movie furthers the depiction of ethnic stories on the world screen, and he says, "We hope the film can show people that cultural stories can be told in different genres, without dwelling too much on the culture itself—that is just another part of the story. That said, we're always worried about portraying characters authentically. Here, we did our homework and strived to present this world as accurately as possible to the lived experience of many Indians and Indian-Americans."
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