Tuesday, September 8, 2009

1920: Bhatt-Style Horror

I thought while transferring my reviews to this new space, it might be fun to re-visit some of these films. Re-reading, my opinion on this one hasn't changed. It had the potential to be a really cool feminist tale but went a bit more conventional - still, it's a fun film. Creepy but not overly gross. And the music is good.

Here is my original review of 1920!

1920 is a good film. It's not a brilliant film or a life-changing film but then not everything has to be. 1920 is a good old-fashioned ghost story, plain and simple. I had a few minor quibbles with the story but I'll get to that in good time.
Every good ghost story needs a couple of innocents. In this case, our innocents are a young married couple - former Mr. India Rajneesh Duggal and the smashing Ms. Adah Sharma. Mr. India and his bride-to-be elope against the wishes of his father.

You see, she's half-English. Her mother was tossed out of the village and if there is one person Mr. India's father does not want for a bahu, it's that hussy's half-breed daughter. After a violent failed attempt to stop the elopement, Mr. India decides that his father's bigotry is caused by religion and gives his up. Mr. India becomes an atheist!

Cut off from his family, Mr. India and his bride-to-be end up renovating a big old mansion in the mountains.


But strange things start happening in this big old mansion... strange things that make our heroine - in her snazzy outfits - confide in the local priest. Mysterious voices calling to her... things moving and creaking in the night... Jesus doesn't condone this sort of nonsense. Our young bride has bad things in store for her, though, as the mysterious noises turn into a full blown haunting and then a demonic possession.


Don't read further if you don't want to know who done it...

Still with me?

Ghosts have to come from somewhere and our haunted mansion has a sad past. Two sisters used to live there. Their father had gone off to fight in the first Indian uprising, leaving them alone in the big house. Being proud supporters of Indian nationalism, they were only too happy to take in a mysterious Indian soldier who shows up in the woods outside - horribly wounded and needing a place to hide.

Sounds suspicious, doesn't it... He's really a traitor!

A traitor to his nation!

This doesn't sit well with our patriotic sisters and they send for a lynch mob. But how to keep our traitor right where we want him...? Noble elder sister sacrifices her virginity for her country in the highpoint of the film - "Aise Jalta Hai Jiya" sung by Asha Bhosle. The picturization is divine!

And here comes my one quibble with the film - the spirit who hangs around. Wouldn't it be perfect if the spirit who is haunting the place is the poor elder sister who gave up her virginity for her country only to be banished in a honor-killing-lite purgatory?! I know I would be an avenging spirit after 50 years alone in a crumbling old house cut off from human contact.

Alas, this progressive reading is not to be and our spirit is the stupid traitor who was greedy and horny and has somehow turned into the devil. That said, by the end of the film I was really enjoying watching the young bride gleefully possessed and kicking the butts of all the male authority figures in her life.

If only the ending hadn't wimped out on me... I would also be remiss if I didn't mention Rakhi Sawant's excellent item number, "Bichua," sung with an low earthy tone not often heard in Bollywood playback singing by Ms. Shubda Mudgal. Brava to both ladies!

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I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

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xoxo Filmi Girl