Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche (1972)

ramsay_films

Hooray! A Hindi horror film that isn’t horr-ible! And it’s even a teeny bit suspenseful in parts (although I am easy to scare, admittedly). It contains all the elements essential for the genre: a cast of unknowns (except Helen! in one song, and Imtiaz, and Satyen Kappu) (oh! and Dhumal) (okay so not that many unknowns, except for the leads), some gratuitous sleaze, a large mansion, a careless if not mad scientist, creepy background noises, and a graveyard. The latter leads me to speculate that perhaps the dearth of horror films in Hindi cinema stems from the Hindu tradition of cremation, leaving only a minority of the population in India available to become zombies. There are also a few lovely songs which don’t intrude at inappropriate moments and a mostly coherent story with pretty minimal CSP interruptions. And the fashions and sets are Early Seventies Candy Floss at its most eye-popping.

So Yay! Ramsay Brothers! Yay! (Why didn’t you quit while you were ahead?)

We meet Raja (Surendra Kumar), who comes to the cemetery every day to lay flowers on the grave of his wife. He makes sure to tell the Joseph the Christian gravedigger (Habib) that although he is a Hindu, his wife was Christian.

dgzkn_pushpa

Our hero thus established as an exemplary—and vulnerable—man (in less than two minutes), we can get right to the villains of the piece. On his way home, Raja hears a woman screaming for help: she is being pursued by some no-good types with sweet sweet loving rape on their minds.

dgzkn_bachao

They manage to tear a good part of her blouse apart before Raja arrives and rescues her with some stiff awkward kicks and a few tight slaps. An older gentleman (Satyendra Kapoor) lurks behind the trees observing the scene with satisfaction. Raja offers the girl, Anjali (Shobhna), a ride to his house so she can repair her clothing.

It’s never clear to me why Raja doesn’t just take Anjali to HER house, but if he had then…you know, no plot. Raja lives in a huge haveli which seems to consist mostly of hallways (all the better to lurk in), with his two servants Chanchal (Smita?) and Ramdas (Dhumal). He has a laboratory where he spends his time pouring liquids from one vial to another in front of an array of creepy looking containers.

dgzkn_lab

That night Anjali dresses up in one of Raja’s dead wife’s nighties and proceeds to seduce him by slipping into his bed, pretending to be frightened. It’s pretty rrrrracy!! by Hindi movie standards, anyway. Men, it seems, are completely helpless in the face of a determined woman in her nightgown!

The seduction:

dgzkn_seduction

The hilarious cut-away to this incongruous couple on Raja’s bedside table, heavy with symbolism:

dgzkn_luv

The aftermath:

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Anjali calls her Mamaji—who unsurprisingly was the man lurking behind the trees. He willingly (and greedily) gives his consent for the marriage. Raja and Anjali are duly married and embark upon their life together. There are just a few small hitches: Anjali is already in love with a man named Anand, who is away traveling; she is worried about his reaction when he returns and finds her married. Mamaji himself drinks like a fish and it doesn’t take him even a day to start asking Raja (via Anjali) for money. Even dim-witted Ramdas notices when he pockets a silver chamcha or two from the dining table.

dgzkn_food

If this were not all bad enough, temptation arrives in the form of another girl. To be honest, I could not keep any of the three main girls—Anjali, Chanchal and now Meena—straight; they all looked the same to me except that Chanchal ran around in a tribal girl outfit.

Raja meets Meena (Pooja) after she tumbles into the lake while singing a lovely and lively song, “Ek Panchhi Banke” (songs are by Sapan Jagmohan, and are terrific).

dgzkn_meena

Raja and his very bad Elvis wig (poor guy, he’s so young too!) pull her out and take her home. Chanchal recognizes her as being Ramdas’ niece. Anjali (being the last girl he rescued and in a position to know why she should worry) is jealous, but he brushes her aside. He is already smitten by poor unconscious Meena, and he sits and frets by her bedside all afternoon (while we gape at her cleavage).

dgzkn_cleavage

She recovers her senses the next day to everyone’s relief, and Anjali tells Raja that Uncleji is coming to visit again.

dgzkn_nomoney

Later Anjali attempts to seduce her husband with a striptease, but he isn’t very interested and their awkward grappling is thankfully interrupted by Meena singing a bhajan. A very pretty one! but still. Anjali for one is not pleased.

dgzkn_thwarted

(I love the tape player playing the music for Anjali’s striptease! My dad had one similar, although not as…plaid.)

dgzkn_tapeplayer

When Mamaji arrives, he tells Anjali that her Anand has returned and that he’s told him that Anjali is away. Anjali tells him that it’s not going to be easy to get any more money from Raja—she wants to leave. Raja meanwhile is pouring more liquids into other liquids in his crazy lab, and things are beginning to bubble uneasily (and redly). He’s interrupted by a scream from Anjali and rushes out as something spills over.

dgzkn_yuck

Anjali and Mamaji of course want more money, and with Meena, Chanchal and Ramdas as mute and shocked witnesses, Raja and Anjali have the mother and father of all showdowns, airing all of their dirty laundry. Recriminations are flung, accusations made, and it culminates in Raja opening his safe and flinging money at his wife and her uncle.

dgzkn_showdown

He storms out back to his lab and loyal Ramdas scurries to close the safe and lock it (yay Ramdas!). A distraught Raja fails to notice that some of the bubbly liquid has spilled into his carafe of water, and he pours a glass and drinks it. Moments later, clutching his chest, he passes out on the floor to the great distress of Meena.

dgzkn_nahiiin

A doctor is called, and while they wait Meena prays to not one! but three different deities as Anjali leafs casually through a glossy magazine. I giggle at the subtlety of it all (also, Anjali is wearing a satin dressing gown and Meena a white cotton sari, of course).

dgzkn_waiting

When he regains consciousness, Raja is paralyzed from the waist down. Anjali stops the doctor from hospitalizing him, saying that she’ll take care of him. Riiiight. Then her lover Anand (Imtiaz Khan) discovers the truth and arrives on the scene to confront her. He understands very well the kind of woman she is!

dgzkn_jewelries

This causes me to reflect upon the fact that I actually have way more in common with Anjali than I do with Meena! Oh no!!! Anjali manages to persuade Anand that Raja is abusive and she is scared of him. Mamaji decides that they have to kill paralyzed Raja, and convinces Anjali to convince Anand to do it. Poor Anand—I felt very sorry for him throughout this movie; he seems unable to say “no” to the awful woman he loves, but he’s not a bad guy really.

Anjali and Mamaji send the servants and Meena off to a fair, leaving Raja alone with them. Anand reluctantly injects Raja with poison procured for the purpose by Mamaji, and Raja dies.

dgzkn_dead

Or does he? The rest of the film revolves around the increasing tension between Anjali and Anand as strange happenings begin to occur in the big creepy mansion. For one thing, they are unable to find the key to the safe; and then when they do, it’s empty! There are sightings of a zombie-like figure, strange footprints, and so on.

dgzkn_bed

Interestingly, although everyone is terrified at night, it’s business as usual during the day. It never seems to occur to any of them that maybe they should take advantage of the daylight and LEAVE. Ah well. That is the stuff that horror films are made of, I guess; nobody has ever claimed they are logical. I mean, Raja went to great pains to let us know that he is a Hindu; but still, he is buried by our nefarious threesome instead of cremated.

dgzkn_zombie

I enjoyed sitting through this—beyond the fabulous (and sometimes blinding) early-seventies style, the film moved along at a decent pace and once we were supposed to be scared even managed some moments of tension (at least for me, but as I said: not that difficult). The characters were engaging, especially the bad guys, although of course I was rooting for poor taken-advantage-of Raja (if not pious too-good-to-be-real Meena).

And the icing on the cake: Helen has an uncredited appearance in a wonderful bar song complete with Satyen Kappu doing a little jig and pouring out the requisite VAT 69.

dgzkn_helen

Fun fun fun! I give this horror film two thumbs up!

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36 Comments to “Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche (1972)”

  1. I need to see this, i saw it a while ago at induna and would definitely add it on my next shopping trip, Friends dvd folks need to be subtle about their logo, the top left side of the screen wouldn’t cause no harm would it, but anyway i’m thankful they at least put it on dvd with english subs

    • Yes, at least the Friends logo is semi-transparent and not garishly colored, but it would be nice of them to move it to the top or bottom of the screen instead of smack in the middle (or best of all, GET RID OF IT! We know it’s a Friends Video, people!). But am thankful that they are putting out some older films and obscurities with subtitles :-)

  2. Sounds like a perfect Halloween nite film :) I think the only Ramsay film I’ve ever seen was Veerana and it was godawful. BTW, are you on facebook? I’m connected to some blog friends thru FB.

    • The only other one I’ve seen is Hotel (Ranjeet!!!) and it was a complete and total FAIL. This was a masterpiece by comparison! I am on FB although not very regularly, have sent you an email :)

  3. Ha ha! As others have said before Memsaab, so glad that some of these got made because reading your take on them is a hoot :-)

    As an aside, according to Kaka stalwarts like Anaad, apparently Keshu Ramsay ran after Rajesh quite a bit after “Red Rose” ;-) All those grimaces you were so scathing about apparently were just the kind of expressions required in a Ramsay production :-D

    • Hmmm…yes. At least Rajesh had the good sense to say “NO” to those offers! This was not actually bad in terms of acting (or over-acting, as the case may be). Some were a little wooden, but nobody was really OTT.

  4. Damn, she deserved to die for that negligee alone!

    • LOL, she wore a yellow and green frilly robe of some sort after Raja was killed that made me think: “He’s lucky he’s dead so he doesn’t have to see this!”

  5. “Idiot!Stupid!Food”..FOOD??? not FOOL?…hahaha..I love the subtitles. And “I’m your fan, Krishna!!!”…Awesome ;)

    But to be honest, if a scene like the cap you have posted with the zombie figure popped up on screen, I would surely jump up in my seat!!!

    • Yes, a lot of times the word “fan” is used where “devotee” might be a bit more accurate :) One of those subtitle quirks!

      It wasn’t horribly scary; maybe I’m not as easy to frighten as I used to be, who knows? Getting older can probably do that. But it was fun, with some moments of “eek” :)

  6. Am I the only one to think that Raja looks like David Tennant from certain angles? In his picture in his “lab” for one.

  7. MUST SEE THIS! Look at Helen!

  8. I actually have way more in common with Anjali than I do with Meena!” – you dont sing bhajans or wear cotton sarees?!! lol

    And since when did a horror flick need a chemistry lab (a domestic and very economy version) with colored fluids in assorted flasks?

    • I do wear cotton sarees on occasion! And I even sing (badly) bhajans on occasion. But I love jewelries and beds even more. Also, like Mamaji, I drink like a fish.

      Have you never seen Frankenstein?!

  9. A Ramsay film with no stupid comedy track running parallel to the main story!

    • I didn’t say there was NO stupid comedy track, only that it was kept to a minimum (and disappeared entirely for the end of the film when it was getting all scary). You cannot have Dhumal in a film without a CSP! :)

  10. So I can finally see a horror film??

  11. Fantastic review, Greta.
    It had me in splits throughout – it is so funny ! :-)

    I remember seeing this movie sometime in the 70s – but I did not remember much of the story.
    I think the only scene I really remember is the one where they dig a grave to bury him.
    I don’t remember any of the racy bits – but mind you, I must have not even been a teenager when I saw this.
    Was it an “Adults only” movie ? I would never have been allowed to see it in that case.

    A few other movies of the early 70s that I remember seeing at that time – Pardey Ke Peechhey, Goonj and Ek Paheli (or was it Paheli ?).
    I don’t remember the stories as such and they were not necessarily horror movies, but if one broadbands this genre, they could be fitted in.

  12. In screencap 9 Meena wears a western outfit as she sings a song and the Raja rescues her. In the next screencap she’s wearing a traditional saree with bindi – she maintains that look throughout and even sings a bhajan. Strange.

    In the dialogue where Anand accuses Anjali of loving jewelry and beds, I’m assuming that by “beds” he is insinuating her love of going to beds with men and not beds literally???? Or am I reading too deeply into this???

    • Ha ha, yes indeed she converts quickly to sarees and bindis once she gets a look at Raja. It’s what Hindi film heroines DO :)

      Yes, he’s insinuating that she’s a bit of a whore, but I love the subtitle—I love beds in the literal sense, as in “Hey–it’s nap time!” :) The subtitles were certainly a great deal of the fun in this film.

  13. this is not a true horror film. ghost makes his entry very late.the way rajesh dies,full inverted and mouth opened is really horrible if you are watching the film alone at night. satyen kappu has done a good job and also the ghost. ghost scenes are not enough but in whatever quantity they are present,they are good.

    • I think it’s very true to the horror genre. It does take a while to set up the undead plot, but many horror films are like that. Makes it even scarier when you finally get to it! Agree that Satyen K. was great in it :) I thought it was highly entertaining in general!

  14. i hv seen dis film..dis is an vry gud film..not mch entertaining…bt stil gud..i hv seen dis film on a vcd n dat got a crack..n dats i cudnt c da helen song…so cn u pls writ da helen`s song name wid da singer..so it wud help me in ma helen collection….

  15. How did I miss this review? What a nice take on a BOllywood “Horror” movie. Your review makes me want to watch this movie.

    “He has a laboratory where he spends his time pouring liquids from one vial to another in front of an array of creepy looking containers.” hahaha, that is a great quotable quote that is applicable to many movies of this genre.

    And I must say that the seduction bits of this movie could well be the major attraction of this movie, going by your account and the screen caps.

    And “horror” movies used to get “A” (A for Adults) certificate in India those days. And in that case, Raja would have been prevented from watching this movie by his good folks.

    the only Ramsay brothers “horror” movie that I watched was “Darwaaza”, and I watched it in the “best possible” way in keeping with the seediness of the movie. I watched it in a seedy looking movie hall, in the lower class ( I may have been running short of money to afford Balcony seat). Like Raja, I too was not an adult, but then I did not depend on my elders for watching movies. And yes, ‘Darwaaza” was an A movie, though I could not see why. This movie incidentally was the debut movie of Sunil Kapoor (later renamed Shakti Kapoor) who played a small role as a baddie.

  16. watch dahshat the best ramsay film.

  17. ELVIS WIG! Hahahaha!!!! You reminded me of my elder brother
    Mohammed Zamin who wrote film parodies in 1977 published in
    Filmfare.

  18. One of the bests from ramsay brothers,though I saw the same few years latter,if one has to learn horror film making with shoestring budget and best of locations I believe its(mahablaswar). and entertaing too learn the craft from them.and ido remember clearcut 1975 ANDHERA, DARWAZA1978,AUR KAUN 1979,SABOOT 1980,HOTEL 1981, DEHSHAT 1981,GUNGROO KI AAWAZ 1981, TELEPHONE1985,PURANA MANDIR 1984,VEERANA 1988, KHOJ 1989,all the mentioned movies were hits,and not to forget that master craftsmen respected vijay anand(goldie uncle ) reposed his fairh in them(TulsiRamsay/Shyam Ramsay) itself speaks volumes of them even today you can watch these movies with same zest.not to forget they remined of my school/college days,truly master filmmakers. RAVINDER MINHAS JALANDHAR CITY PANJAB minhas35@yahoo.com.

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