Mini-review: Hotel (1981)

This Ramsay Brothers effort—billed in lurid lettering as “A Suspense Thriller”—is neither suspenseful nor a thriller.

Here, in a nutshell and without screen caps because Ultra DVDs don’t play on my computer, is why:

The Comic Side Plot: While an aging Mehmood romancing an aging Rajendranath under the spell of a love potion could possibly stand on its own as a horror film, that isn’t the intent here, and so it merely interrupts (for long stretches of time) what should be the building suspense as hotel guests are killed off one by one.

The Lack of Killing: Tiptoeing around the delicate sensibilities of the censors might get the film released, but it’s not horrifying if nobody is actually shown being murdered. An actor covered in garish red “blood” after the fact isn’t disturbing, at least not appropriately.

The Wig: No mere script, no matter how full of gore and ghouls, could ever compete with the horror that is Rakesh Roshan’s auburn wig. Zombies simply pale in comparison.

The Songs: Two people singing happily about their love for each other also kind of diminishes the suspense. And although I’m a big fan of Usha Khanna, her music for this film is just plain dull, much like the film itself.

The Budget: A landslide of styrofoam boulders which could be easily pushed aside is not even a little alarming, never mind fear-inducing. Marauding undead obviously fashioned from papier-mache and old sheets aren’t scary either.

The Acting: Most of those under attack seem only mildly afraid, even bored at times. This makes it very difficult for me to be afraid for them. Monotonous high-decibel dialogue delivery also encourages me to want certain people to die, if only to save my own ears (yes, Ranjeet, I’m talking to you, although it pains me greatly to say so).

The Story: Maybe the fault of the censors again, but all the victims are awful people and basically deserve to die. Good people are spared (unless they are canine). Where’s the suspense in that? Horror is supposed to strike randomly, at anyone, anywhere, any time. Otherwise, we shareef aadmi can just sit smugly by with our glasses of wine.

I do want to give the Ramsay Brothers mad props for trying to make a horror film despite being saddled with circumstances and traditions that engender no real hope of success. However, if Hotel didn’t frighten me, it isn’t going to frighten anyone.

So far, my venture into Hindi cinema’s horror fare is not going that well (or else it is, since I don’t like being scared). But I have high hopes for Shaitani Dracula, although I doubt I can improve on this review.

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47 Comments to “Mini-review: Hotel (1981)”

  1. Check out the song “Hum ko tum se pyara koi Nahin”… I think picturized on Prema Narayan… Song is hummable… Hotel played in Capitol Cinema in Bombay…. (next to VT station)

    • I liked the theme music and some of the background music, but not any of the songs…so many film songs from the early 1980s have that awful “disco” sound, which I just can’t stand. I know this isolates me from most of mankind, but I didn’t even like the songs from Karz…

  2. Hi memsaab,

    Before Ram Gopal Verma came with a horror film called “Raat” made in his own unique style in 1992, everything in India related to Horror was treated as Low grade cinema.

    So you will actually find only few movies which can be really called horror made in those years. Most of them will have ugly faces, strange and funny sounds filled with unnecessary sexy scenes in order to gain cheap publicity.

    Among the best horror movies made in that period, there is one with the title “PURANA MANDIR”. See if you can get hold of that and let us know how did you find that.

    Bobby Sing
    bobbytalkscinema.com

    • Beth reviewed Purana Mandir over here—I don’t think I’d have anything much to add, but perhaps I will give it a try (she liked it)…I don’t think the sensibilities of Hindi cinema really fit with the whole horror thing (well, now they might, but not through the early 80s anyway). It’s probably one reason I like Hindi films :-)

  3. I was a small kid when the film was released in Bombay and I simply wanted to see it. Forbidden fruits!

    “Otherwise, we shareef aadmi can just sit smugly by with our glasses of wine.”

    Well, by hindi film standards that alone would make us non-shareef.

  4. The only thing redeeming in Ramsay movies was the music by Usha Khanna. Three cheers to a talented lady in a male dominated film music industry. Like rest of the mob, i was happy to listen to an odd interesting song or two from this stable and have not seen any of the so called horror movies which are not horror at all as explained by some one above!

    • I love Usha’s music too, for the most part. I was very disappointed in this soundtrack, except as I said somewhere above—the theme and background music was good.

  5. Ramsay movies were C grade movies as has been mentioned earlier. They were made on shoe string budgets taking newcomers/ unknown names.

    Sometimes, some of these newcomers went on to bigger things. For instance, one of the “better” Ramsay horror movies was “Darwaaza”. It was here that one saw Shakti Kapoor for the first time in a small role. He was still known as Sunil Kapoor ( his original name) at that time.

    Ramsay brothers signed up out of job music directors and some of them sometimes came up with nice music in these movies.

    The first horror movie that Ramsay brothers produced was
    “Ek Nanhi Munni Ladki Thi”(1970). It had awesome music by Ganesh (brother of Pyarelal).

    • My dad knew one of the Ramsey’s… they shot a scene from Nanhi Munni in Dad’s shop…. As a kid who was frightened out of his wits watching the posters in Bombay, I took some recourse that my Dad new the maker of these horrors… I remember Rafi singing… “Ek nanhi munni ladki Thi”… on the radio… Vividh Bharathi…. aah the early 70s in BOmbay… :)

      • Do tell me which scene! I will watch out for it especially :-D

        • Thanks a lot… I myself never saw this movie… It should be in some kind of art shop… (in Bombay… without giving away the name).. like a display case with curios and the little girl maybe crawling around…. if not this, I need to ask Dad… only 40 years ago… he should still remember :)

    • I have Ek Nanhi Munni Ladki Thi but it doesn’t have subtitles (still, I need to watch it). I was surprised that I knew all the names in this one—I suppose Navin Nischol was kind of washed up by now, but can’t imagine what the rest of them are doing in it. Although maybe it was a novel idea for the time…

  6. Have never even heard of this movie.
    I remember seeing a Ramsay movie when very young “Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche” (meaning “Six Feet Under”).
    I remember only the first 45 min or so – was OK. There was a pretty decent song too “Ek Panchhi Banke” by Vani Jairam.

  7. Reminded me of a business associate who recalled an incident when he (at that time living in Mumbai) had come to Delhi for work and was staying in a hotel in Paharganj. After he’d spent a night there (it was a ramshackle place), one of the guys – bellboy, waiter, whatever, remarked that “Sahib was staying in the same room where a corpse had been found under the bed a few days back”.

    Ah, well. This, at least, is one film I don’t want to see.

  8. From a hazily-remembered Ramsey-watching binge a while back, I recall “Hotel” being one of the more competently made. Which might say something in and of itself.

    I definitely agree that Hindi film sensibilies don’t lend themselves well to horror films. Part of the problem with Red Rose, too. It’s like the films are working against themselves.

    But I love it that they try! And (possibly sadly), I’ll continue watching them. :)

    • I think the fact that it was fairly competently done is what made it ultimately so dull: if it had been badly done it would have possibly been more interesting (oh! the irony!). But since it couldn’t accomplish what it was trying so hard to do, it just ended up being competently unsuccessful.

      You should keep watching. And writing about them, so I don’t have to :-)

  9. Get “Halaku” if you can find it – it has Pran.

  10. I have Halaku, it’s a lovely film and Pran is great as the title character :) Helen is in it too!

  11. I have a collection of around ten Ramsay Brothers movies, and I put them right up there with those by the Marx Brothers.

    Nothing like a ‘Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neechhey’ on a lazy afternoon, beer in hand. My wife sadly, looks at me with the scowl that people reserve for suspected lunatics.

    No serious plot. Bare minimum acting. Some clever editing and everything else going right over the top!

    • I suspect my review does not reflect how easily I did get through the film. As I said—it didn’t scare me, but I don’t like being scared so that was okay. It was a very bad film, but I was entertained by Rakesh Roshan’s wig, the bad special effects and of course my guy Ranjeet, although I did tire of him shouting his dialogues at me…

  12. Wow! I am spellbound to see so many likemindeds here! I have been trying to figure people you out across the web. Finally my search is over now! Hey friends, there’s a long list of Horror films produced by Ramsays and I would say that compared to the extra turgid productions by Kanti Shah, Jeetu, Vikram Patel and the Kankarias, what Ramsays made looks as fascinating as John Carpenters ‘Halloween’ and Tobe Hooper’s ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. There were few good spells from Mohan Bhakri and his crew like ‘Khooni Mahal’. The film also did moderately well at the box-office. Then Vinod Talwar came up with his ideas and soon was out of business. One of the best films with several shocking scenes and arresting effects was ‘Kafan’ released in the early 90s. If you don’t have it in your spokky collection, then get it now!

    • You probably have already discovered these sites: Teleport City and Die Danger Die Die Kill (links to both in my sidebar). Octoberzine writes about horror films too sometimes on her blog.

      Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche is on its way, so will be writing about that one of these days ;-) At the very least, Helen is in it!

  13. I bet Hotel was one of the best flicks I have even seen. This was neither ghoulish nor gory, but yes capable enough to create a suspense. The story sucks due to the presence of Mehmood, Birbal, Rajindernath and so on. Thanks that Jagdeep wasn’t there to torment the viewers. Has anybody seen Sohal’s ‘Hatyarin’, that’s a kind of good movie one should have. Pansy Deepak Parashar has scattered his charisma across the screeen. Well Anil Dhawan, Deepak Parashar, Hemant Birje etc. were Indian Vampire Killers. Now no more jobs for them as nobody believes in Boogeymen these days. Some of the songs from Hotel are still heard like ‘Dekho Pyar Mein Aisa Nahi Karte’, ‘Pyar Karte Hain Hum’, ‘Tere Jaisa Pyara Koi Nahin’ (This has also been remixed a few days back) and finally ‘Jeena Hai To Jee Bhar Hans Lo’. I particularly like Jeena Hai To because it puts the good side of life before me.

  14. LOL@your Jagdeep comment. I so love Jagdeep, although mostly I’ve only seen him in 70s films where I guess he was more benign. You are funny, Khayaal!

  15. Hey Memsaab,

    First of all a very good evening to you. I was just wondering if you know where to watch the movie ‘Chudail’, released in the year 1997, directed by P.Chandrakumar and produced by Gautam Dhariwal. This movie is quite a promising one with some of the great scenes of mayhem. Usha Khanna has composed a spellbinding background score however long and boring songs composed by her suck! I wish there were no songs in the movie. Good thing is that I have a FORWARD button in my DiVX player. I have been looking for Chudail for the last 13 years and haven’t met success till date. Kindly help me. I even made a brief correspondence with the Webmall India staff but they turned me down by saying that they can offer me other movie as Chudail was out of stock. I am dying to watch it. Ha ha, Jagdeep isn’t there in this movie….Maybe you won’t enjoy this too….Have a nice day and a prosperous new year!

    • I don’t have Chudail, have not ever seen it. You could try induna.com—if you email them they are quite responsive about trying to get films.

      The FF button is a must :) Hope you find the film soon!

  16. remember seeing this one ages back,average flick,the song tumse pyara koi nahin was a rage.did decent business.

  17. Hello Memsaab,

    Why don’t you comment on old horror flicks like ‘Darwaza’, ‘Dak Bangla’, ‘Veerana’ etc. etc. I think the 20 years that spanned 70s and 90s were really the golden age of Indian horror movies. I am so much waiting for your comments.

    Ha ha, I remember I was watching ‘Wohi Bhayanak Raat’. Damn it, Vinod Talwar didn’t even showed a little sense while behaving like a copy cat only to steal most of the elements from Tom Holland’s ‘Fright Night’.

    What the heck!

    Rakesh Bedi (The dumbo litterbug) assumed Evil Ed Thompson’s role. Can’t even compare the talents of Stephen Geofferys and Rakesh Bedi.

    Kiran Kumar (The unholy Pathan) dressed up as a Vampire with long fangs and aghasting face. I think Chris Sarandon would shoot himself after seeing his legendary character of Jerry Dandridge being spoilt in such a ruthless and insensible way!

    Rohan Kapoor (The son of seasoned singer Mahendra Kapoor, who nobody likes) 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 gor raped, the night would have become WOHI BHAYANAK RAAT 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.

    • LOL!!!! You have in your comment exactly explained why I don’t watch Hindi horror films! :D

      *Falls off chair laughing*

      Although a film in which Yunus Parvez is raped is surely something I need to see…(and I love Mahendra Kapoor, know nothing of Rohan though) :)

  18. Hello Memsaab and thanks a lot for the kind reply.

    Yesterday I was looking for some information about Rakesh Roshan and I landed on Klaus Kinski’s website. Klaus Kinski, as you must be knowing was a Polish-German actor, whose daughter Natassja Kinski is a notable actress and model.

    I found striking similarities between Rakesh Roshan and Klaus Kinski. Based on my observations, I can say that Rakesh Roshan is a step ahead of Klaus.

    Klaus Kinski’s collaboration and his infamous run-in with director Werner Herzog was something that created good buzz in Hollywood and German film industry during 70s. Klaus remained underestimated and underrated throughout his life. The only reason I can see behind this is his equal commitment to mainstream and B and also C grade films. He never wanted the role (even if it would be a beggar’s role) pass onto someone else. He grabbed every opportunity to make money and compromised with his talent as well as his aspirations to become a megastar. He remained violent on the sets and even threatened to kill the crew (Thank God Rakesh Roshan is friendly.). Klaus took every movie, regardless of the budget. His main aim was to make money. Some of his great movies include ‘Cobra Verde’, ‘Aguirre – The wrath of God’, and ‘Woyzeck’. His acting in a Franco-Japanese movie ‘Le Fruits de la Passion’ was well-directed by Shuji Tereyama and projected Klaus’s image as a wealthy western, who is fond of sick games.

    Klaus worked in movies of decent budget like Aguirre-The wrath of God and ‘Fitzcarraldo’ and also in the cheesy spaghetti westerns like Grandi Cacciotori at the same time, so I can say that his movie ‘For a few dollars more’ exactly represents the kind of person he was.

    Coming to Rakesh Roshan, here are my observations that made me think him better than Kinski in terms of savings and assets.

    1. His movie ‘Kaamchor’ was released in 1982 and did a decent business across the country, even then he signed Ramsays’ ‘Haveli’, which was released in 1982. The same theory of ‘For a few dollars more’ applies here.

    2. He saves money to the best (I suppose he has also sold his auburn wig for a few dollars and has deposited the money for future use.)

    3. He doesn’t pay Rajesh Roshan, and poor Rajesh, squinting away does a fairly good job for his bald wig-less sibling. After all Rakesh has no choice but to accept the crap his brother pushes out. Well nobody in this world would do a composition for Rakesh for NOTHING!

    4. It seems Rakesh has already signed a ‘No Compensation’ deal with Hrithik and takes his son for granted. I am sure someday he would sign a ‘No Compensation’ deal with Suzanne as well. (If someday she says ‘Give Me a Break in one of your movies, then Suzanne should be aware that this is the criteria! BE GOOD FOR NOTHING..Ha ha ha). Imagine Hrithik got no compensation for ‘Kaho Na Pyar Hai’, ‘Koi Mil Gaya’, ‘Krishh’, and I think he would remain poor after ‘Kites’ as well.

    5. Rakesh himself does the screenwriting job for all his movies. Well, when there are so many wonder-brains in the west, then why to use ours! We like ready-made stuffs, don’t we? Rakesh tailors the western soup by giving it a good Indian ‘Tadka’ and serves it to the audience.

    6. So how to get lucky? Well that’s as simple as changing diapers! Just begin the name with ‘K’ and you’re done! I am sure someday we will read his name as ‘Kakesh Koshan’ in a movie portal or tabloid. So the secret of Rakesh success is revealed now.

  19. What a coincidence! I just left Solva Saal on here and left to look up some Bollywood movies online. One movie I found on YT was “Hotel” (1981) and dismissed it as something I didn’t want to see.

    Then I come back on here and see that the review for “Hotel” is right before “Solva Saal.” Scary….

    Is it a sign? Am I still going to be able to come back on here in a couple of days?… I’m not exactly saintly, y’know…. =(

  20. HOTEL was FEB 1982 release at least in north India,those days movies use to have chain release,like east/west,north/south,HOTEL reunited once again NAVIN uncle,RANJEET uncle,and NARINDER NATH uncle after SAWAN BHADON 1970 in which all three made their debu,unfoturnately two of them are not with us anymore,but I believe this is Law of nature ,ones Like it or not,anyway back to this movie, this one too was another well crafted effort by RAMSAY BROTHERS,extremely pleasent Locations/mouth liting songs,which can be heard even today,thirty two years after its release,and not to forget,the entire movie was centered around RANJEET uncles character,and he gave award win performance,though notterrifi/ng as DHARAMATMA(1975)VISWANATH(1978)and MERI AAWAZ SUNO(1981),but one as manuplative/caclulative/mean man and RANJEET uncle gave one of his most effortless performance,which is remembered even today,and mind you there were no computers those days,all gave mind blow performance,hereby I will not forget to write that once both RAM GOPAL VERMA SIR and SHRIRAM RAGAVAN wrote that they were both inspired by the RAMSAY BROTHERS in there growing up years,and they still remember those movies,it also remineds mean that even master craftsmen VIJAY ANAND reposed faith in them and assigned them for his home production GHUNGROO KI AAWAZ(SEP 1981) and they did not too did not disapoint him,unfortunately the movie did not do well at box office ,but the the movie by itself was worth a watch,this also remineds mean of another movie of theirs KHOJ(1989)in which RISHI uncle gave his best performance,but this went unnoticed probably this one was RAMSAY BROTHERS last best effort,NOW in todays times personaly SRIRAM RAGVAN has impressed mean so much,that I Hope he maintains his standards for making slickly crafted movies,both JHONY GADDAR and AGENT VINOOD can be compared to any bond movie.THE movies mentioned above,and in specfic can be watched anytime,watch HOTEL too.RAVINDER MINHAS,JALANDHAR CITY,PANJAB.minhas35@yahoo.com.

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