Masters of Horror– Part 3

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[Previous editions of Masters of Horror---Part 1, Part 2]

As someone who writes genre fiction (Please buy “The Mine” if you have not yet), I always strive to layer in my elements. In other words, I try to hide the real horror of the story beneath the surface of the narrative such that what is being shown is as important (if not more) than what is being implied. Two levels (the outer and the inner) is the maximum I can handle and that too with difficulty. Which is why I doff my cap to Vikram Bhatt, a true master of horror, who effortlessly handles four, five, six and even sometimes seven layers of horror with consummate ease.

Case in point, Vikram Bhatt’s latest blockbuster Raaz 3 aka Raaz 3D aka Raaz the Third Dimension. It has caught the world by storm, getting reviews from NY Times (link) and LA Times (link), setting box-office records in India and perhaps, most impossibly, reviving the career of Bipasa Basu. Raaz 3 has seven layers of horror, which keen readers will note is the same number of circles of Hell envisioned by Dante. This, I believe, is not a co-incidence because sitting through Raaz 3 is like descending into the deepest depths of the Devil’s Lair.

So what are these seven layers you ask. Well, here they are. In no particular order.

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Bond, Bourne and Bhai

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As the door swings dramatically open, light streams into the darkened room. A man in an impeccably tailored black suit turns on his toes and points his gun towards the dissolving blackness.

“The name’s Bond, James Bond.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake”, says the voice from inside, “I knew it was you Mr. Bond the moment that Tadatada tune started playing. So enough with the nautanki.”

Jason Bourne never quite liked James Bond. Overtly theatrical and stylishly arrogant with a Cold War-vintage stench of Pussy Galore, Bond made him want to forget everything.

Once again.

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Jism 2—The Review

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Watching Sunny Leone’s career is like rewinding a porn VHS—it starts out with full nudity and progresses to demurely clothed. She needs no introduction, of course, merely a Google search. Suffice to say, Leone grew up like many others, playing with toys along with other female friends,before moving on to other greater things, like Picasso in his “blue” period, blowing hot and cold and taking as many positions as Mitt Romney. Shooting into prominence for her appearance in a show that may be referred to, without loss of generality, as Big Bs, she caught the talent-spotting eyes of Mahesh Bhatt who then cast her in his daughter’s film “Jizz Em 2″ or, as it is called in India, Jism 2. Purely for her acting abilities. And of course because of her attention to detail, for which it seems she wanted to see health certificates (for HIV apparently) of her male co-stars [Link], perhaps because she did not quite understand what “getting into a character” meant.

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Prometheus—the Review

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Ridley Scott made a bloody good movie once. It’s name was “Alien”. Scary cat-face. A terrifying ship-horn. A sense of impending doom. Claustrophobia. Excellent use of light. And of silence. Icky jumping cauliflowers that eat faces. Organic dildos that penetrate. But from inside. More gooey stuff splattering in two minutes than two hours of a Japanese bukkake video.

“Alien” scared the shit out of me, each time I saw it. It affected me in such a visceral way that everytime I ate a egg-mutton roll during Durga Pujo at Maddox Square, I expected that alien head to come bursting out of my stomach and say “Guess whose meat it was that you ate. And guess who that egg batter came from.” Yes it was that scary. The food that is.

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The Asli Agent Vinod

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[Also published in DNA]

Gather round, children. Today I shall tell you the story of Agent Vinod. Not the Saif Ali Khan- Agent Vinod but the one who came before him, the original “Agent Vinod” from the 1977 movie with the same name.

It was a landmark year for international intrigue. Times were so bad that Iftikaar,  known to play the staid police commissioner who encircles the bad guys ( “Police tumhe chaaron tarah se gher liya hai”), had crossed over to the dark side. There he was heading an international gang of intrigue, which not  content with blowing up what looked suspiciously on-screen like toy-trains and doll-houses, had also hatched a sinister plot which involved kidnapping and imprisoning great scientist Ajay Saxena (Nazir Hussain)  in a lair that had sharp dildos descending from the roof and, even more dangerously, lip-shaped TV screens. Why did they do this? So that they could obtain from him a secret formula he had developed, one that could negate even the effects of a Hydrogen-bomb.

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Players–The Review

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At a climactic point of “The Players” where the protagonist and antagonist are engaged in a verbal O.K.Coral shootout, one of them says:

“Mera kaam hai naya twist laana. Tumhara kahani bahoot predictable ho gya hai”

Among the many special elements of “The Players” this was one of its finest, a moment of crystalline cinematic purity where the voice of the creator and the voice of his creation merge as one. It was as if the director-duo Abbas-Mastan, who are to film-making what Bonny and Clyde are to crime and Hobbs and Sutcliffe are to cricket, are trash-talking their contemporaries, those that make straight stories about straight people.

Because for Abbas-Mastan, it’s all about the twist. As a matter of fact so twisted are they, that within the first ten minutes, Abhishek Bachchan discovers a secret CD cut out in a novel, a novel sent to him by dead-criminal Aftab Shivdasani. No, the twist isn’t in the fact that someone gave Aftab Shivdasani 15 seconds of screen-time (which is what he had) or the fact that he would be seen with a book.

No the twist is in the name of the said tome.

“Oliver Twist”.

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Rockstar—the Review

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The next time Pakistan makes a medium-range ballistic missile, I hope they call it Fakhri. Cause the lead lady of “Rockstar”, a veritable Sanjay Kapoor in ladies clothes, is a messenger of celluloid destruction. So stilted, artificial and halting is her performance that she makes Katrina Kaif look like Katherine Hepburn. I kid you not.

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Chitkabrey—the Review

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The industry may have been looking forward to “Ra-One” or “Rockstar” or “Ready” but for me, a fan of avant-garde Hindi cinema (the technical term used in this context is avant-gaand-de), “Chitkabrey–Shades of Grey” (to give it it’s full appellation) was the movie of the year.

First of all, there was immense controversy leading up to its release , controversy of the type that almost accompanies great works of art like “Citizen Kane” and “Chingari, the first famous for giving us deep focus and low angle shots and the second the popular phrase “manoranjak kutiya”.

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