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The last best horror film of the early 90s
'Raat' was released in the early 90s, precisely in 1992. The early 90s were the time when the substance of horror was nowhere to be found in the horror films. Unlike Ramsay films, 'Raat' wasn't a B- movie. Yes, it had low budget, yet the actors like Rohini Hattangadi, Revathi, Aakash Khurana, Anant Nag and Om Puri save it from being a B-movie. I watched it in 1992 when it was released in several cinema halls. Thanks we didn't have multiplexes then, else the collections would have been less. 'Raat' is all about a decent setup, tricky camera work and horror. Fortunately, this is far better than any other horror movie released in the late 80s and early 90s. People would say that Ram Gopal Varma got into horror soon after 'Bhoot - 2003,' but the truth is that his love for horror is well reflected in his early creation like 'Raat' that haunts me even after 22 straight years. 'Raat' is about belief vs disbelief and known vs the unknown. Let's have a look at the plot.
Mr. Sharma (Aakash Khurana) has just shifted to a new house located in a posh suburban area of Hyderabad. He lives along with his wife Shalini (Rohini Hattangadi), daughter Manisha aka Minnie (Revathy) who is in her late teens and grandson Bunty (Atit), who is the son of his deceased daughter and elder sister of Minnie. The house is elegant and the Sharmas are happy with it. Minnie is happier than everyone else because the house next to hers belongs to her fast friend Rashmi (Jaya Mathur). Minnie lives a carefree life and loves spending quality time with her college mates like Deepak (Sushant) and Rashmi. Minnie is having a silent affair with Deepak and both of them want to keep their profile low.
Ever since the Sharmas shifted to this new house, Minnie is having nightmares, where she finds herself being chased by some unknown entity that ultimately gets her. Scoffing at her own silliness, Minnie dejects the idea that something might be fishy. She even suffers from episodes of delusion where she finds herself all alone even when surrounded with her friends in actuality. Rashmi's grandmother, who had been living in the very next house is surprised how the Sharmas decided to move into this house because she thinks (or knows?) that the house had a bad past and is home to an evil spirit. Minnie's delusions take a bad turn one day, when she decides to go to a nearby picnic spot with Deepak on his birthday.
During their trip Deepak gets an idea that something is abnormal with Minnie as during a fit of delusion, the color of her eyes change and she behaves as if her senses are being ruled by some unknown entity. The episodes come and go in a jiffy but gradually intensify. Minnie even kills Rashmi in a fit of delusion and the investigating officer Tej Sapru is mysteriously trampled under a truck. Rashmi's death mystery remains unsolved. Shalini begins to smell a rat too but Mr. Sharma doesn't believe her. One night, Minnie attacks her father thus giving him a reason to believe that something strange is lurking in the vicinity. Mr. Sharma considers it to be a psychological problem and brings home a shrink (Anant Nag) but Shalini is advised by Rashmi's grandmother to seek the help of Sharji (Om Puri), a renowned exorcist. Sharji's findings reveal that an evil spirit (Sunanda) is living below the house and needs to be warded off to save Minnie's life. How Sharji, Deepak and Shalini work together to save Minnie's life forms rest of the story.
'Raat' reeks atmosphere and is intense at several places. Revathi is brilliant and truly convincing in her efforts. Deepak doesn't have much to do, but his role is still an important ingredient of this flick. Even after 22 years, I would like to thank Ram Gopal Varma for his ingenious and flawless direction. One shouldn't forget Bunty as well, because he literally owns some of the most memorable scenes, especially the ones related to his dear cat. Aakash Khurana's effortless acting is smooth and natural as always and Om Puri shines in his brief role of Sharji. I don't consider 'Raat' as a family entertainment, because it's not made from entertainment perspective but still remains a horror drama that is rude and truly chilling. As Sharji says, ' When we light a lamp, a certain area around it is lit. This illumination is just a deception, because the areas where light doesn't reach are still dark and hold so many secrets that can only be understood in the light of paranormal wisdom. We need to be prepared to fight this darkness, else it will consume us.' I guess this statement details everything about 'Raat' and the thought that might have provoked Ram Gopal Varma to produce and direct it.
Alag Alag (1985)
Alas! Alag-Alag couldn't save Kaka's dwindling career!
The year was 1985 and Late Rajesh Khanna was no more a superstar. Yes, he had projects but none of them were powerful enough to revive his career that was on a downward slide. The quartet (Samanta, Pancham, Kaka and Kishore) had come together again to create a magic, but as time would see, Alag-Alag couldn't become more than a musical hit. During the early and mid-80s the art cinema was at its peak and films like Garm Hawa, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Tarang, Ardh Satya etc. were actually sketching a true portrait of the Indian society. Alag-Alag is very-very filmy, I mean it misses something that could connect it with the paradigm of real world. The story is a simple tale of two individuals, who start off bickering but end up loving each other. The film portrays their struggle and how they manage to get over all the obstacles to ultimately attain their 'Zindagi Ka Maqsad' (Life's Goal) that unfortunately changes twice or thrice in 3 hours. The good thing about Alag-Alag is that it's loaded with memorable and lingering songs and is also very nostalgic. I watch it whenever I like to take a trip to the mid-80s, when films used to be so stress busting comical creations. Ah! The Wonderful 80s.
Neeraj (Rajesh Khanna) is an aspiring singer, who comes to Mumbai hoping to make it big in the music world. In Mumbai, he lives with his friend Karim (Deven Verma), who assists him in his hunt for opportunities. Even though Neeraj is talented, yet none of the music directors want to give him a chance as a playback singer. He sings for the common people living in the neighborhood and is admired by all.
Chandni (Tina Munim) is an innocent runaway village belle, who has come to Mumbai to find a suitable and rich husband for herself. Neeraj and Chandni come across each other and keep fighting over trivial issues. Fate takes Chandni to Dr. Pratap Rana (Shashi Kapoor), who is a successful doctor and lives in a palatial house. Dr. Rana is a widower and Chandni due to her sheer innocence, wants to chance upon him. However, Dr. Rana looks upon her as his daughter.
One day Neeraj is discovered by a successful actress Sarita (Bindu). Neeraj thinks she could help him getting a chance to perform, but Sarita is actually obsessed with him and wants to pull him into a live-in relationship. When Neeraj comes to know of Sarita's amorous intentions, he severs his relationship and goes back to Karim. It's there he realizes that he only loves Chandni and wants to begin his life with her.
Chandni is blessed with a melodious voice and Dr. Rana wants to teach her urban mannerism. For this he sends Chandni to Begum Zaidi (Gita Siddharth). On the other side, Neeraj finally gets his long awaited chance to become a playback singer. He makes it big in the world of music and then his 'Zindagi Ka Maqsad' shifts to Chandni. He follows Chandni to Begum Zaidi's house and vows to 'kindle the flame of love' in Chandni's heart. Despite denying earlier, Chandni finally realizes that she loves Neeraj and they thus come on the same note.
Chandni wants to go to Dr. Rana and Neeraj decides a spot to meet once she is back. When Chandni goes to Dr. Rana, she finds him on deathbed. Rana dies soon after wishing Chandni a happy life. Now we see that previously Neeraj had a rift with his billionaire Dad (Subbiraj) that led him to Mumbai. He rejoins his family and is now a billionaire too (Wish I were lucky too!). Neeraj wants to meet Chandni but meets an accident that turns him mute (I never knew that injury on vocal chords is a psychological problem. Wonder how they made it up!).
When Neeraj doesn't show up, Chandni is left all alone and homeless. To hide his inability, Neeraj begins to avoid Chandni. Feeling that she has been ditched by Neeraj, Chandni's 'Zindagi ka Maqsad' shifts towards realizing the dreams of now deceased Dr. Rana, who wanted to see her as a successful singer. Neeraj helps Chandni in realizing her goals unbeknownst to her, because now Neeraj's 'Zindagi Ka Maqsad' is to establish Chandni as a successful singer. He begs a great music maestro Mirza ji (Om Shivpuri) to groom Chandni. Well, you see Mirza ji and Karim both live in the same house....Oops this was a goof!
Alag-Alag had scope, but only if it were released in 70s. By early 80s, the audience had adopted a new taste for action films and family dramas. There were so many young and promising faces to challenge an aging Rajesh Khanna. Mithun, Rishi Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Anil Kapoor, Sunny Deol etc. had a list of successful films behind them. Rajesh Khanna had hits and semi-hits like 'Souten,' 'Avtaar,' and 'Kudrat,'yet I won't say he was fit for Alag-Alag. He looks too old and his wardrobe doesn't suit him. I mean, he looks funny with those costumes when he tries to throw his jaded charms acting like a young boy that he surely wasn't. I guess Shakti Samanta had to cast him as a hero because Kaka produced the film. Samanta should have disagreed with Kaka just the way Mahesh Bhatt did while directing 'Naam,' for which producer Rajendra 'Jubilee' Kumar asked him to give the part Sanjay Dutt was playing to his own son Kumar Gaurav. Time told that Bhatt was right, else 'Naam' would have been a fiasco. Desipte a simple story line with so many unprecedented events, packed with funny twists and turns, 'Alag- Alag' is still a strong representative of the 80s, so you can watch it too in case you are a hardcore fan of Rajesh Khanna (like me) and need to take a quick trip to the 80s.
Alibaba Aur 40 Chor (1979)
A wonderful journey to the age old classic cinema
I seldom review 'fairy tales' because of their speculative nature. Such tales usually take me to an imaginary world for an hour or two and when their effect fizzles out, I realize that it didn't work on me as it should have. However, this isn't the case with 'Alibaba Aur 40 Chor' released in the year 1979 or 1980. It was a collaborative effort between India and USSR. It was a film directed jointly by Umesh Mehra and Latif Faiziev. The duo would also direct 'Sohni Mahiwal' in 1984, yet another milestone with evergreen songs. Since 'Alibaba Aur 40 Chor' is a 3 hour film, we would better look at the characters and their parts in this film.
1. Fatima (Zeenat Aman): She is the daughter of an old and rich merchant (Madan Puri), who is not only a businessman but also the inventor of explosives! When his caravan is raided by 40 thieves, headed by the dreaded Abu Hassan (Rolan Bykov), Madan Puri and his aides try to stop them with explosives. Successful to some extent, the aides finally break down under the might of Abu Hassan, who takes Fatima and his dad captive and confines them both in an underground cave. Madan Puri is forced to make explosives for the thieves and Fatima is given charge to arrange stuffs for making bombs. In course of time, Fatima discovers that her dad committed suicide and is left all alone to avenge his death. With the help of Alibaba (Dharmendra) she finally manages to grab Abu Hassan.
2. Alibaba aka Ali Bin Yusuf (Dharmendra): He is a resident of Gulabad (a fictional town located in a fictional Islamic State of Baharistaan) and a wastrel. He loves to spend time with his beloved friend Hamid. Alibaba is concerned about the wellness of Gulabad and wants to serve the people of his community. Time takes turn when Alibaba's mother (Sofiko Chiaureli) asks him to look for his father Yusuf, who is a trader but hasn't returned to Gulabad in the last 40 years. Alibaba's journey takes him to Baharistaan where he finds that the current ruler Shah Alam Parvez (Pinchoo Kapoor) has been deposed and killed by his commander-in-chief Shamsher (Prem Chopra). Alibaba rescues princess Marjina (Hema Malini) killing Shamsher in the process and they both join a caravan that's heading to Gulabad. He meets his long lost dad Yusuf in the caravan, but the happiness is short lived when Abu Hassan and his men attack the caravan and Yusuf is fatally wounded. Ali vows to slay Abu Hassan and his men, not really knowing that Abu Hassan is mightier than what people have ever known about him.
3. Qasim (Zakir Mukhamedzhanov): He is Alibaba's elder brother. He is an industrious businessman and runs a store in Gulabad. His greed takes him to Abu Hassan's hideout, where he enters using the magical spell (Khul Jaa Sim Sim) but forgets it at the time he's about to leave. Abu Hassan and his henchmen discover Qasim hiding under the pile of dimes and quarter him. His corpse is hung inside the cave but Alibaba recovers it and gets it sewn by an experienced tailor.
4. Marjina (Hema Malini): She is the daughter of Shah Alam Parvez and the princess of Gulabad. First Alibaba rescues her from Shamsher and then from a lecherous merchant Mustafa (Frunze Mkrtchyan) when he is about to sell her in the slave market. Marjina becomes Alibaba's trusted friend and lover and helps him in devising a plan to track Abu Hassan down.
5. Abu Hassan (Rolan Bykov): Abu Hassan is the dreaded chief of 40 thieves. He is cruel, mean, cunning, courageous and a great actor. When I say actor, I really mean it. Rolan Bykov needs a standing ovation for his part. He has literally lived the character of Abu Hassan on screen. He portrays two different characters in the movie, who are not only one and the same but also exactly opposite. Either ways, he has justified his part and plays it fairly well. His dialogs are menacing, his humors are vengeful, his personality, his turban, his eyes, his looks and everything about him is sinister and the manner he magically transforms from one character to another is miraculous. The way he scolds his henchmen and makes them run like rats tells a lot about Abu Hassan's excellent commanding persona. I am so much in love with this man. He has sidelined all the other actors and meets success in making a special place in the viewer's mind.
Even though 'Alibaba Aur 40 Chor' has considerable differences from the actual '1001 Arabian Nights' yet it is no boring and is capable enough to take the viewers in the old Arabian world where Merchants, Caravan Raiders, Magicians, Qaazis, Haakims and such unique figures used to exist. The part of Abu Hassan has been well handled. The original '1001 Arabian Nights' doesn't have Abu Hassan in it, but here Mehra and Faiziev introduced him and thanks that they did. This is indeed a fine example of classic cinema and the lovers of classic cinema would appreciate it. I also appreciate Javed Siddiqui for penning down dialogs that are in simple Urdu (unlike Razia Sultan, Mughal-e-Azam, Sikandar-e-Azam and some others) and it is also 100 times better than other films with Arabian backdrop like Ravikant Nagaich's 'Thief of Baghdad-1977' and 'Shabnam - 1964'. The songs are fresh and soothing. Overall, a complete family entertainment.
And you thought vampires live only in the West?
This was again a new experiment in everyday horror. Under the shade of various strange horror films of the west, the Indian directors like the Ramsays' and several others began looking for better ideas. 'Bhayanak' is perhaps inspired by several 70s western horror flicks, but successfully carves its own identity. I watched this one years ago with my uncle at a local theater and recollect getting goosebumps and hiding my face behind my uncle's shoulders whenever a creepy scene was thrown. This is just one straight great delivery by S.U. Syed, who lost his mind in course of time. His another flick 'Saat Saal Baad' that was a shameless copy of Friday the 13th (1980) shows that Syed was caught in a downward spiral.
Bhayanak begins with a beautiful woman (Ranjeeta) being manhandled by some goons outside a local cemetery. The goons are interrupted by a police inspector (Mithun). Since Mithun is not in his police uniform, the goons take him for a nerd and try to scare him away from the scene. Mithun beats them mercilessly and saves the girl. The girl has no relatives and is new in the town. Mithun and Ranjeeta come along on the same note and begin dating each other. Soon they decide to get married and settle down. It's not very long when Mithun is transferred to another town (Mangalpur?). Promising his newly wed wife a quick reunion at Mangalpur, Mithun leaves for his destination. Few days later, Ranjeeta receives a telegram from Mangalpur. She comes to know that unable to pick her up, Mithun has asked her to come to Mangalpur all by herself. Ranjeeta takes a bold decision of going to Mangalpur, but on her arrival finds that Mangalpur is a desolate town with strange people. She decides to continue her further journey by foot, but ends up at a large wilderness where a strange Tonga is waiting for her. Bewildered by the reigning silence of the wilderness, Ranjeeta decides to board the Tonga but goes helpless when the Tonga takes her to a creepy grove, where she is murdered. When Mithun comes to know of her arrival and later death, he decides to investigate the matter. Ranjeeta's corpse is devoid of blood and this looks strange to Mithun. With a special permission from his superiors, Mithun begins to look for the clues. His investigation ultimately leads him to the deranged family of Thakur (Nilu Phule), who with his brothers lives a secretive life. They say that those who tried to sneak into his Haveli were never seen again. Whenever Thakur or his family members are out on streets, they are barked upon and chased by the street dogs. Something is seriously different about this family that happens to have a plan of exploiting their victims for a common but highly sinister cause.
Bhayanak has a crispy storyline with several twists. What begins like a typical Mithun film becomes grimmer and darker minute by minute. This film has a subtle amount of atmosphere and that too at a mediocre budget. I guess they found a story that was nifty enough to demean the budget. Nilu Phule, Om Shivpuri and the other roughnecks need an honorable mention here for their shares. Although Bhayanak is inspired by western vampire tales, it has been molded uniquely to impress the local audience. This is certainly S.U. Syed's first and last best film.
Deserves a watch
Be-Shaque was released in 1981, the golden age of horror and thriller. I remember, my uncle would listen to Be-Shaque songs on his gramophone before heading to office every morning, and I enjoyed the tracks like 'Haseen Haseen Wadiyon' sung emotionally by Anwar and a pleasant duet 'Preetam Tum Mere Rahoge Sada' by Suresh Wadkar and Usha Khanna while I played with my cousins. Recently the film got aired on a movie channel at an odd time slot. Since I wasn't sleepy and the following day was Sunday, I decided to give it a try. Here is what it's all about.
A woodcutter Lakkhi (Mohan Choti) is out in the forest to collect some woods. He witnesses the murder of a wealthy youth Shyam Sunder (Vinod Mulani) and decides to break the news in the village. He gathers everyone and takes them to the murder spot. He is bewildered to see that what was Shyam Sunder's corpse moments ago, has now miraculously changed into a dead bear. The police arrive and begin investigating the case. The police officer (Suresh Chatwal) has no clues about the murder as he only manages to scrap some samples of human blood from the site of incident. The inspector questions Shyam's widowed step-mom Nirmala (Sonia Sahani) about Shyam's lifestyle, but gets little help from her. Nirmala tells him that Shyam was fond of hunting and was more of a rolling stone. Her daughter Roopa (Yogeeta Bali) is a loner and loves to spend most of her time roaming in the fields and woods with Khokhu (Master Prakash), the son of Nirmala's old and trusted servant Gopal (Amrish Puri). Nirmala is secretively involved with Mishra ji (Jalal Agha), a wretched and cunning neighbor. Mishra usually sneaks into Nirmala's palatial house at night so as to keep his illicit affair with Nirmala a secret.
Some days after the murder, we meet Prakash (Mithun Chakraborty), who has just arrived in the village for Shyam. He meets Nirmala and tells her that he owes some money to Shyam and has come all the way long to return it. Nirmala is suspicious about Prakash, but has nothing against him. Soon Prakash and Roopa begin meeting each other and Khokhu becomes their trusted messenger. Gopal doesn't like Prakash and always keeps an eye on him. We also come across an abandoned house at the outskirts of the village, which is believed to be haunted. Nobody knows who sealed the house and why. As the mystery deepens, we see various hidden facets of the entire story. Here, something is not as it seems to be.
Be-Shaque boasts lush cinematography, and a murder mystery set up in the backdrop of rural India surely deserves a watch. Kashinath has showcased his directorial abilities accurately. Mithun and Yogeeta (the real couples) are nice on screen and go quite amicably. Amirish Puri, Mohan Choti, Jalal Agha, Sonia Sahani and above all Shakti Kapoor need an honorable mention for their shares. The sharpest edges of this thriller cum murder mystery are the locations and versatile acting by all the characters. During the early 80s, the common theme of murder mysteries revolved around urban locales, where a masked killer would continue to murder hapless victims to satisfy his/her sinister urges. Here we don't have a masked assailant with a drenched raincoat and a mean nifty hat or a cheroot to pronounce the killer's vicious identity, but rather a very simple and easy setup. Be-Shaque has a plenty of atmosphere (Ah..Did somebody say 'Gehrayee'?) and the simple lifestyle of the village-men has been used as a deadly cover-up. You always bet on the simplicity of the village-men. A clumsy person is labeled 'Desi' sometimes. Now here, you've got to face the same Desi stock that is far clever than your imagination (Oh..Did somebody say '2000 Maniacs?). As far as I am concerned, I never grew up beyond the early 80s. Be-Shaque has a complex plot, but the director knows to put it simple. Overall Be-Shaque can be watched for its lead pair, bunch of versatile actors, melodious songs, lifelike cinematography, active plot and atmosphere. Oh...Did I cover everything?
The odd one out!
The beginning years of the 90s were most traumatic for the B-horror genre of Bollywood. Attempts were made to return the audience to the old school of horror but these attempts only fueled the sense of hate among the audience for the Ramsays, who were once liked by the horror buffs for their originality. I really don't understand what went wrong with the Ramsay brothers that they failed to maintain their originality in the early 90s. They tried to make their film as shocking as possible with a limited budget in hand. The resulting films, which were usually rip-offs of highly successful American films, failed to do any good to them as they all turned into a big fiasco. Previously, The Ramsays used to copy few jack-in-the-box scenes from certain Hollywood films but as the time went by, they said yes to complete plagiarism. Films like 'Aakhri Cheekh' and 'Mahakal aka The Monster' are the living examples of plagiarism which never helped the Ramsays reclaim their lost position in Bollywood.
'Mahakal' is 'A Nightmare on Elm Street - 1984' rip-off but those who've already seen this Wes Craven masterpiece will be left with frowning faces once they have watched this piece of trash. The main storyline comes concurrent with ANOES with few exceptions where Ramsays have tried to improve it. Ha ha, they thought they were improving the original version but we know what they came up with. If anyone of the Ramsays is reading my review then please note that by making 'Mahakal' you've only insulted yourself and not Wes Craven. Wes Craven made a masterpiece which was hellish and freaky in every sense and was packed with guts and gore. Including dance numbers and infantile comedy doesn't give 'Mahakal' an advantage over ANOES.
Archana Puran Singh who along with Navjot Singh Siddhu has been criticized by many for her meaningless laughter plays the lead part in 'Mahakal'. She often dreams of a man with long steel fangs who attacks her in dreams. Archana usually wakes up with cuts and bruises she gets during her struggle with the monster in her dreams. Her family and friends try to console her, but Archana is the destined prey of this monster who won't leave her unless she has been laid to rest forever.
I guess this part clearly coincides with the original ANOES but whatever has been trashed out apart from the above plot is clearly an additive and a foolish contribution to the original version. If they want to make a rip-off they should first learn to create an effect on the viewers. I don't say that films need a good budget to be effective. Films like 'Gehrayee', 'Raat', 'Red Rose' etc. didn't have a heavy budget but their effect can be felt till date. All you need is a good plot, good actors and expert direction. I won't recommend 'Mahakal' to anyone who has already watched the original A Nightmare On Elm Street', because 'Mahakal' is simply a comedy of errors.
Horror.....No! Suspense thriller....Yes!
Mohan Bhakri aka Mr. Sleaze was a director overburdened with lame ideas that he used to call a 'film'. 'Cheekh' was released in 1985 and saw a run of just 3 days in our nearest cinema hall. It wasn't the case that the locality where I lived in was a crowded place, packed with people who tend to be movie buffs. On the contrary, my hometown was close to any hamlet where people loved to watch whatever ran in the cinema hall. So, what went wrong with Cheekh? It's certain that it didn't live up to the expectations of the local film goers. Cheekh was billed as a horror film, but it wasn't one. It was a thriller film with a tint of slasher genre. The idea is, Cheekh failed to beat the other films of its time because the swarm of B-graders made it look like any other Bhakri film and people had a common idea of letting it go by. However, this wasn't the case. Cheekh is not only interesting but also moves well once it comes to the point.
Cheekh begins with Thakur (Madan Puri), the cruel village landlord and womanizer, who claims every village belle for himself. It seems he rapes every bride in the village and earns the anger of dominated villagers. The villagers, however, are too docile to protest against the evil landlord. On one such bad day, Thakur rapes another bride before the very eyes of a young kid. The kid watches it all and swears to exact revenge some day.
Days go by and Thakur grows old. He has a daughter Deepa (Deepika Chikhaliya), who is happy-go-lucky kinda girl and remains in her own world of imagination. Once a sculpture artist named Sunil (Javed Khan) saves her from local goons and Deepa falls for him. She takes Sunil to her father, who is now invalid and is on wheel chair. Since Thakur lives alone, he wants Deepa to get married with Sunil and requests Sunil to shift in his palatial Victorian era mansion. Sunil accepts this offer for he loves Deepa very much.
Few days later, Deepa's friend Nisha (Madhu Malhotra) arrives in the mansion. Nisha is a crystal ball reader and claims to know the fate of everyone around her. As few days pass by, we meet Rohit (Raza Murad), who has come here for Nisha. The viewers may guess that Rohit and Nisha are in a kind of relationship and know each other closely. Nisha interprets some messages she gets from her crystal ball, and tells Deepa that a bad omen is imminent. A few nights later an unknown assailant pushes the disabled Thakur down the staircase where he meets a grisly death. As the police has no idea about the killer, they ask everyone to stay there unless the killer is apprehended.
Deepa is restless and is usually calmed by Sunil. They decide to stick together and face the situation as it comes. One night Rohit is accidentally killed by Deepa and Sunil, when they are playing with a fake gun. The two don't understand how it happened. Sunil, being an artist embalms the corpse with POP (Plaster of Paris) and puts it in between his other artworks. Deepa and Sunil decide to keep this a secret and begin finding ways to get rid of this problem. One evening, a girl (Neelam Mehra), who looks like a forced journalist comes to the town looking for her brother Rohit. She secretively files a complaint at the local police station about the strange disappearance of her brother. However, her arrival doesn't remain a secret as the killer soon finds about her and mercilessly kills her. As the mystery deepens, the trio (Deepa, Sunil, Nisha) begin to lose their nerves. They must act fast before the killer redeems the opportunity to kill them.
The story had enough scope, but possibly due to lack of finance Bhakri couldn't develop it well. The locations are eerie and the cast is not bad but surely they all have a label called 'B's' stuck to their faces. The ending is tricky and shocking and the moment it comes, it connects the viewers right with the prologue. This film is bit difficult to find, but I've heard that some DVD companies have refurbished the original VHS version and have attempted to revive this decent little gem. Thanks to their efforts.
Wohi Bhayanak Raat (1989)
Alas! This wasn't a sleeper hit as Talwar expected it to be.
Ha ha, I remember I was watching 'Wohi Bhayanak Raat'. Damn it, Vinod Talwar didn't even show a little sense while behaving like a copy cat only to steal most of the elements from Tom Holland's 1985 comedy horror cult-classic and a sleeper hit 'Fright Night'.
What the heck! Rakesh Bedi (The dumb litterbug) assumed Evil Ed Thompson's role. Can't even compare the talents of Stephen Geofferys and Rakesh Bedi. Though the latter never went gay!
Kiran Kumar (The unholy Pathan) dressed up as a Vampire with long fangs and ghastly face. I think Chris Sarandon would shoot himself after seeing his legendary character of Jerry Dandridge being spoiled in such a ruthless and insensible way!
Rohan Kapoor (Who nobody likes except for the fact that he is the son of seasoned multilingual singer Mahendra Kapoor) takes the role of William Ragsdale and plays 'Charlie Brewster'. Ah..come on! Gimme a break!
Yunus Parvez (The fat man of Hiroshima) plays Rody McDowall's character of Peter Vincent, the GREAT VAMPIRE KILLER, who hosted 'FRIGHT NIGHT' show! Yunus tries to look sensible and genuine in all the ways but fails to do so. Instead somebody rapes him in the middle of WOHI BHAYANAK RAAT. Surely, the moment Yunus got raped, the night would have become WOHI BHAYANAK RAAT (or The Same Terrible Night) for him.
Neeta Puri plays 'Amy' in this movie. I can't even think about putting Amanda Bearse and Neeta Puri under the same scale. She has struggled hard to throw her charms onto the viewers but I feel that all her efforts went in vain.
Despite being a shameless bastardized and an ugly version of Fright Night, Wohi Bhayanak Raat has some features of its own and some of the scenes were quiet intense and capturing.
P.Chandrakumar had already adapted 'Fright Night' in his 'Bungalow No. 666', but as the lovers of Bollywood B-horror may know, both the adaptations were lame and bad in their own right. I really feel sad about the fate of Bollywood horror in the late 80s and early 90s. People who have an affinity to the North American and Italian cinema may reprimand directors like Joe D'Amato and Jesus Franco for bringing out the nastiest horror films, but I assure you all that directors like Vinod Talwar, Mohan Bhakri, Jeetu and R. Mittal are miles ahead of the West, when it comes to idiocy.
WoW! What a Witch!
Hatyarin aka The Perilous Witch was released in 1991, the beginning days of the 90s, where Ramsays' had lost their battle to the directors who were making horror films in a shoestring budget. The Ramsay family lost the fame it once held in the heydays of Bollywood b-horror. Now the horror genre was like a marooned boat awaiting the mercy of a great boatman for further directions. Now I won't say that crap directors like Vinod Talwar, A.K. Misra, Mohan Bhakri and several others didn't try to get control over the boat. They did, but unfortunately proved to be dumb navigators. They surely directed a few films, but in the lines of Hollywood cult horror films and you can make a guess why they weren't able to customize it for the local audience. Yes..you're right, THE BUDGET and LAME ADAPTATIONS!
However, Vinod Talwar is not as dumb as I always thought him to be. His film 'Hatyarin' proves this. I may put it a cut above his other films like 'Raat Ke Andhere Mein' and 'Wohi Bhayanak Raat'. 'Hatyarin' has some decent acting, double entendre comedy, slick plot and it moves ahead with over-the-top energy and has some memorable songs. I specially remember two duets 'Kaise Buddhu Anari Se Pyaar Ho Gaya' and 'Bheeg Ja Barsaat Mein' sung soulfully by Shabbir Kumar and Alka Yagnik. Thanks to Naresh Sharma for these soothing tracks.
The film begins with 3 friends Kailash (Ajit Vachchani), Shambhu (Sudhir Pandey) and Vishambhar (Raza Murad) who are business partners. Shambhu lives with his 3 children Gudiya, Anita (Amita Nangia), Raju and his nephew Baldev (Shiva Rindani). Kailash lives with his daughter Jaya (Jaya Mathur) and Vishambhar lives with his daughter Kavita (Sri Pradha). Anita is engaged to Inspector Ravi (Deepak Parashar), while Kavita is engaged to Vicky (Javed Khan). On the day of Guidya's wedding, something ill happens and we see Gudiya being mesmerized and finally taken on a chariot to a sacrificial lair by a widow (Jamuna) amidst dense forest. As soon as Gudiya wakes up from trance she calculates that her life is at the mercy of Jamuna. Jamuna sacrifices Gudiya near a tomb where an evil Tantrk named Kamlakh is morbidly asleep. Cut to the wedding scene, Gudiya's newlywed husband is anxiously waiting for the moments of intimacy, but little does he know that someone who is on the bed wearing Gudiya's nuptial costumes is none other than a hideous witch, who pounces upon the poor man and instantly kills him. Nobody knows what happened to Gudiya. A few days later, Ravi discovers Gudiya's corpse near a heath and calls upon Shambhu, Kailash and Vishambhar to identify her corpse. The trio arrive but Ravi couldn't connect Gudiya's death with anyone of them. Anita is in love with Ravi and wants to get married with him. Vishambhar and Kailash are both troubled by Guidya's death, but they have nothing to calm themselves down. Then, more murders occur. Baldev, Jaya, Jaya's husband (Rana Jung Bahadur), Shambhu, Raju and Kailash they all get killed one-by-one. It seems their family members are facing the wrath of a witch who has returned from the hades for a grim payback.
'Hatyarin' is energetic and flows swiftly. The budget is out of question but yes the death scenes are astonishing. Vinod Talwar has directed this film with all his might and I think this was the best he could give to us till date. The witch is butt ugly and I think her one glimpse may spoil your days together. Despite being Vinod Talwar's film, I suggest you go for it, because it would certainly give you a fascinating return on your investment.
Aakhri Cheekh (1991)
A Reminiscent of Wes Craven's 'Shocker'
'Aakhri Cheekh' was released in the year 1991 and by this time, the Ramsays' House or Horror was falling apart. Like a gambler, the Ramsays' were motivated once again to make a film on the lines of Wes Craven's 1989 film 'Shocker'. Well, plagiarism isn't a new tool for Bollywood. Many directors and storytellers we see now have achieved their fame with it. Now, it all depends on their 'adjustments' that bring the tale down to the Indian B-horror standards. This practice has given birth to several blatant rip-offs like 'Mahakaal (1993)', which was a flagrant rip-off of Wes Craven's 1984 cult-classic 'A Nightmare on Elm Street'. Then there was S.U. Syed, who forgot his directing abilities when he shamelessly copied Sean S. Cunningham's historical 'Friday the 13th'. Then we have another impersonator called Mohan Bhakhri, who tried hands with Tom De Simone's 'Hell Night (1981), and Stan Winston's life-threatening creature feature 'Pumpkinhead (1988)'. Vinod Talwar and P. Chandrakumar belittled Tom Holland's 'Fright Night (1985)' by copying the original stuff in such a hate worthy manner that you should never watch Talwar's 'Wohi Bhayanak Raat (1989)' and Kumar's 'Bungalow No. 666 (1988). Unfortunately, 'Aakhri Cheekh' is no different from the ones mentioned above.
Four friends Vijayendra Ghatge, Javed Khan, Deepak Parashar and Anil Dhawan and not just pals, but also business partners. They are known for their collective professional decisions and truthfulness towards one another. However, life tests them when they fall prey to a malicious ghoulish black magician Surendra Pal, who is after Vijayendra's sister Sri Pradha. The magician is notorious for luring young virgins to his lair, whom he later sacrifices before his demon god. The men happen to get Surendra arrested and prove his crimes before the court. The court instantly decides 'death by electrocution' on him. Tied on the electric chair, Surendra warns everyone about his return from the Hades. Little do the guys know that Surendra has a detailed plan of wreaking havoc on their families. How the men unite against all the odds and defeat the dark forces forms rest of the story. The film boasts on bold scenes by B-grade showgirls Poonam Das Gupta and Neelam Mehra. Kanwaljit as a government doctor and Sujit Kumar as a sanely priest need a mention here for their contribution to this trash. Then we also have Vijay Arora as a high-profile advocate, who has a short presence, and Kamal Kapoor with his 'Sadhu' attire closely resembles an Indian hobo. There are few jack-in-the-box scenes that were done well. The background score is bouncy and different from the ones used in the previous Ramsay films.
By the late 90s the real horror had vanished from the so called horror films. Ramsays' could never touch the zenith they did with 'Dahshat', 'Hotel', 'Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche', 'Veerana' and 'Darwaza'. They tried hard to ignite the almost extinguished fire of horror with trash productions that didn't really have a production value. Had they invested on good actors, they could have made a memorable horror film in the late 90s and even now. The Ramsay films had a touch of original during the early 70s and 80s, but unfortunately they didn't give out a single cult-hit in the 90s that could hold a candle to their amazing creations. This is a sleazy film with the swarm of B-graders or so called Bollywood backbenchers, which has nothing new to promise. If you've already seen Craven's 'Shocker', better avoid this one.