Haunted mansions, deserted forests, overprotective priests and of course a quintessential old caretaker and that too in Victorian times, Welcome to the Text-Book Horror world of Vikram Bhatt , an antipode of Ramuâ€™s Drawing room horror, which of lately has become the taste of Indian moviegoers.
The film opens with a horse-cart passing through a 19th century forest, and then the camera shifts to a Pennsylvanian castle, and an architect arriving there with a contract letter. God, Bram Strokerâ€™s classicâ€™s prologue coming alive on screen! I knew this movie had nothing to do with the iconic novel, especially because you canâ€™t expect a side actor to portray Jonathan Hawker. So why was he there? Obviously to die in a heinous manner, and thus trying to create a great opening for the title credits and he did succeed to an extent. As soon as the title credits roll, camera zooms in to a Herculean body in a hanuman temple in rural Rajasthan and enters our hero Arjun Singh Rathore(Rajneesh Duggal), who is in love with a vidharmi(in his fatherâ€™s words) girl â€œLisaâ€ and is ready to leave his â€œparamparaâ€ and â€œkhandaan ki izzatâ€ for a â€œdo take ki ladkiâ€. After delivering some heavy duty dialogues (which most model turned actors refrain from doing, watch him and you â€œll know,why?) about love, religion and God, our hero leaves the village and gets married to his love.
Hell, did we buy the tickets for a horror movie or this dreary Social drama!! But wait, soon our hero gets a contract by his firm to go to the same haunted mansion. The carriage lands in front of the castle again and we knew itâ€™s time for some action. I donâ€™t think, I need to tell you that Lisa soon becomes the victim of an evil spirit. So, where was I, yes, so as the rules go, Lisa starts doing all the bizarre activities that a soon-to-be-possessed woman should do, like sleepwalking, entering into a locked room and finding a wall sized portrait of a princess(Monjulika, anyone!!), and yes, there is a piano too(How come ghosts have this crush on pianos, I am yet to see guitar playing bhoot!), which she plays effortlessly and suddenly we heard a pat on her shoulder with a â€œbangâ€ kind of background score, and we found her husband mouthing this don-to-death line, â€tum itni raat ko yahan kya kar rahi ho?â€.
After a couple of such scenes itâ€™s time to make some grueling faces and uttering manly dialogues for our leading lady. Enters into the scene a priest(Raj Zutshi) and a doctor, who seem to have seen many Ramuâ€™s kind of horror movies as he tells Arjun â€œCanâ€™t you see, she needs medical treatment, your wife is suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder(in 1920!!), you have to admit her into the hospital right nowâ€, and the father, a true Ramsay devotee, he utters this old rotten crap, â€œMy child, Donâ€™t try to ignore the truth, your wife is possessed, no medicine in this world can help her, but only God â€, and then â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦
Then what, if the whole story will be told by me, who is going to buy Rs. 49 CDâ€™s and Rs. 99 DVDs from PlanetM and MusicWorld, two months from now, because I know most of you are not going to the theatres for this one. For those who are really desperate to know, the rest of the movie takes you to a 40 minutes long flashback and a 20 minutes long climax. Where the former asks to leave your brains at home, the later though being surprisingly frightening, ends up with one of the most frivolous endings, I have seen in a long time.
For those who really, really desperate to know, the flashback takes you back to the 1857 freedom struggle of India, and a story of giving away oneâ€™s womanhood for the sake of catching an apostate, Crapp!!!
Why you should not go to this movie
A horror movie 16 reels long, what was Vikram Bhatt thinking, even Ramsay movies used to be 12-14 reels.
Letâ€™s talk about music, though the tracks are soothing on ears, but they are totally out of place and if you have heard this phrase, â€œthough the songs are ordinary but they look awesome when come onscreenâ€, itâ€™s completely opposite here.
Rajneesh Duggal said in an interview â€œI want people to get rid of this perception that models canâ€™t actâ€, like many others in the past, he too fails. At least he could have exposed his chiseled body to attract some of the females; it could have resulted in getting some more tickets sold. Sorry Rajneesh, better luck next time (only if you will get another!!)
Raj Zutshiâ€™s overtly American accent gets on your nerves, especially when he enunciates that â€œDonâ€™t worry ma childâ€, made me feel like slapping him.
Why you can watch this movie in the first week
If you have a girlfriend , go with her, there are plenty of moments to jump on your seat, cling to each other and hold each otherâ€™s hands tightly
If you have a group of friends, and you want to have a good laugh, go and enjoy the typical Bollywood clichÃ© moments, the movie is full of them.
If you are those intellectual types who grew up on Hollywood movies, go for this one, you will find enough copycat material to grumble in this Dracula-meets-Stigmata-meets-Exorcist
Why you should watch this movie in theatres in the second week
Some of the scenes are genuinely scary, even though at times you will sense an â€œAahatâ€ kind of feeling, but you canâ€™t deny that they are not scary indeed
There is plenty of action in the movie, especially in the second half and of course, in the climax. Itâ€™s not like Ramuâ€™s movies where you get two minutes of chills and one hour of prosaic camera movements on porcelain monkeys in a two hour movie
The movie has an atmospheric kind of feeling, because of the textbook horror ingredients like the forlorn castle, and the picturesque forests surrounding the mansion. Watch out the hovering black clouds over the mansion, it looks ethereal!
The actress though a bit wooden in first half, delivers a fine performance in the second half, watch her expressions while being possessed, she was way better than Vidya Aunti, in fact most of the viewers were wondering whether it was the same lady in the two avatars. She has this eerie coldness in her appearance which made her a perfect choice for playing this damsel.
If you â€œre wondering whatâ€™s the story behind second week, read the previous section again, as you will find most of the viewers will be doing the same what I have written above. So if you want to enjoy the movie, avoid watching it in a crowded theatre, which I couldnâ€™t unfortunately.
A major factor why I liked this movie is the hoopla around Phoonk, it really got on my nerves to see those imbeciles telling on camera that it was scary as hell, if Phoonk deserves to be a hit, then so does 1920(Though I know, it wonâ€™t), and if some dimwits think that Phoonk was scary, then they should be made to sit and watch 1920, which is way better than Phoonk.