Evil Eye, written by Madhuir Shekar and directed by Elan Dassani and Rajeev Dassani, has a cultural specificity to it that adds interest to a somewhat routine thriller. The film is a love letter to overprotective mothers. Mother Usha (Sarita Choudhury) lives in Delhi but does what she can to control the love life of her daughter Pallavi (Sunita Mani), who lives in New Orleans. We get a sense early on that this isn't just meddling but that Usha has real fear driving her to set up her daughter with a good man.
This irritates Pallavi who would like to just find her own love. Pallavi also wants to please her mother so she agrees to another blind date she has set up. The date ends up being late but Pallavi meets the charming, handsome Sandeep (Omar Maskati). They soon begin dating and moving fast towards marriage. Usha has major concerns, having their charts read for compatibility and making sure he is a good man. Sandeep turns out to be quite wealthy which only makes Usha more suspicious.
It is here that Evil Eye is at its most interesting. Pallavi wants to move away from a tradition of arranged marriages. She wants happiness and love on her own terms. Her mother seems to be stuck in old traditions. Evil Eye could have been an interesting exploration of paranoia as Usha refuses to just accept her daughter's happiness. However, a plot twist throws this out the window in favor of a more standard thriller third act which puts both Usha and Pallavi in danger.
Mani gives a charming and strong performance as Pallavi. Choudhury is also good and the two are believable as mother and daughter. The film is never sure whose story this is though. It cuts back and forth between the two characters too often. The film also lacks style, often looking like a cable TV movie. This combined with the cliche third act nearly ruins all that is unique and interesting about the cultural exploration here.
Evil Eye has just enough positives for me to recommend it but the film is a case of missed potential. It is no spoiler that Sandeep is a bad dude, the poster gives it away. I will give some credit that the use of reincarnation here is clever and another way in which cultural specificity helps to make the film unique enough.