I quickly grew tired of the plot (Pran evil, Mumtaz helpless, Jeetendra clueless, I.S. Johar painful), but remained riveted to Mumtaz’s Disney princess wardrobe and accessories.
Even if all the Anguished Magic Snakes, Oompa Loompa Tantrics, Been music, Aamir Khans and Indian Geoffrey Rushes in the world were in this film:
I couldn’t be sad that the Sky DVD stopped working at the 1:20:49 mark.
I was tired of watching Juhi Chawla getting hit in the face by the men who “loved” her.
She had also been married off and widowed at the age of three, and is sent to her sasurals‘ house when she falls for Aamir because, you know, an Indian woman only loves/marries once. Even in 1990.
There is really only one compelling reason to watch Ponga Pandit: the costume designer (credited as Manorama Ralhan, who—judging from her other film assignments—I would guess was married to OP Ralhan).
This is a movie where an Elvis poster competing for wall space with a picture of a skinny fuchsia guy and a pair of teepee chairs are not the most startling visuals in the room. Plus, Go-Go Barbie goes practically unnoticed!
For a much better and way more progressive version of the basic story (if, you know, that’s what’s important to you), watch Mem Sahib from 1956 instead.
Memsaab: “But…but…Ranjeet and Bindu get married! And play good guys! How can that possibly be bad?!”
Shalini (patiently): “Why is it bad? Let’s see: for the first half of the movie Neetu plays a rich little suicidal (she thinks she has cancer and only has months to live) girl who hires unemployed, working class Randhir to kill her. It’s nobler/braver, you see, to “defeat” death by taking it in your hands rather than doing something sensible like consulting with doctors to see if there might be some treatments/cures. Anyway, she spends the second half of the film trying to not fall victim to an elaborate, sick revenge plot concocted by deranged, homicidal Ajit. Ajit becomes unhinged when his only child (a young Gufi Paintal) kills himself over his unrequited love for Neetu. He of course blames Neetu for not loving his son back and is determined to make her pay for her “crime.” Neetu and Randhir fall in love in the midst of all of it, because what could be more romantic than this plot?”
Memsaab: “But…Ranjeet…and Bindu…….”
Shalini: “You never learn, do you?”
A few hours later:
Memsaab: “OMG! Ajit STABS A PICTURE OF A KITTEN, he is so crazy!”
Shalini: “Keeping Paintal’s preserved body in the bedroom is worse.”
Memsaab: “That’s probably true.”
Shalini: “Do you realize that Ranjeet (and Bindu) are the most *normal* characters in this movie?! I suppose that’s reason enough for this movie to be immortalized.”
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.