Because of certain commitments and demands on my time, I have not been able to see as many “awesomely great movies” as I would like this year. Old time readers of RTDM will know that awesomely great movies are those celluloid creations which on low budget and on even lesser expectations provide “bharpoor’ entertainment, typically in a different way than the producers of the movies intended. [2007, 2006, 2005]
So this time instead of a countdown, let me get right down to the most awesomely great movie I have had the privilege to see this year, one that deservedly should take Rank 0 in any list. Of course I confess I have not been able to see “Wafaa”, Rajesh Kaka Khanna’s “come” back vehicle, which on the basis of the few leaked pictures (not safe for work and even less safe for your sanity) I have seen holds much promise.
The movie that I present to you today and strongly recommend is called “Bach Keh Zara”. For those of us who have grown up seeing Ramsay horror movies with its conventions and cliches and have consequently developed a fondness for the cob-web-covered “pyasa shaitaan” whose “bhayank panja” causes death and mayhem for the Huma Khans and the Deepak Parashars and have subsequently gritted our teeth as the horror genre has been hijacked by hacks like Vikram Bhatt and Ramu Verma who have tried to “mainstreamize” the whole movement, “Bach Ke Zara” is a return to the pristine formula of the Ramsays, with a dash of the new century in that the peek-a-boo white shirt that the to-be-murdered vixen used to wear in the shower has been replaced by the KLPD kind of fleeting views of actual bare skin of the female upper torso .
Also with a name like “Bach Ke Zara” it embodies the highest ideal of truth in labeling. It’s a movie from which people, of tender sensibilities, may be advised to save themselves from.
Unlike many horror movies which take time to build up, “Bach Keh Zara” grabs you by the throat with its credits itself. After an announcer repeats multiple times that the events and characters are fictitious and have no intentional resemblance to anyone living or dead (even though every scene has a resemblance to Sam Raimi’s, (a long lost cousin of the Ra(i)m(i)says), “Evil Dead”, the opening song (or should I say chant) begins, making the hair stand on the back of my neck and Wordsworth sit up in his grave, his head turning like a top.
Shani Shani Saturn Mysterious Number 8,
Tell me tell me tell me whats in my fate.
Happiness or horror what’s gonna happen,
Is something gonna close in or someone’s gonna open
As to who is going to open that question is answered immediately as the movie opens with a torrid undressing scene (as the movie calls it being”premalaap main vyast”) which goes a bit further than comparable scenes in Hindi movies. Such do the couple shake the world that an evil looking book, with a nose and a mouth falls out from somewhere. The man’s attention is immediately drawn towards the book. As he opens it, he comes across an evil mantra which evidently provides the chanter with great powers. He says it.
Om bheem seem heem cream swaha vigne vigne vigne swaha
For those of my readers who read that last line out and are still alive after that, read on.
Very soon, daggers flash and there is Maggi hot and sweet tomato ketchup everywhere.
After a totally unrelated and needless item number done by Rakhi Sawant (on the basis of these 3 minutes of screen-time, she gets lead billing in the movie) which is horrifying in its own way, we see five college kids (two guys and three girls) going in a jeep over a rustic road.
For the first two minutes they do nothing but scream “Aiieeeeeeee” and “Yo Yo” thus conveying subtly their urban origins and their hepness.
Then they start speaking.
Girl: Accha hua hum mobile naheen laaye naheen to bore ho jata.
Guy: Right babe, yahaan to network naheen hain
Everyone: Haha. Yo Yo. Aieeeeee.
Girl: Yaar Indians are not used to camping. But abhi improve ho rahe hain
Everyone: Haha. Yo Yo. Aiee.
Soon these happy kids are doing exactly the same things that a previous generation of Ramsay college kids did, things that culminated in them becoming chopped liver.
They mock village life by saying things like “We are all educated yaar dont behave like a stupid gaaonwala”. They dismiss the warnings of a epileptic Tantric (not played by Raja Murad) as “purana film ka nautanki” ( a Tarantonish hat-tip to the Ramsays). They go off as couples and frolic in the water without a lot of clothes. One of them listens to a lady in white singing a mournful song in the fog. And finally on a lark all of them decide to spend the night in a spooky house in the woods, the exact same one the tantric warned them about.
Presently the two guys and two girls pair off——–one of the guys wearing a Tshirt which says “Gorilla Unit”, a subtle directorial touch I felt was as full of significance as was one of the girls having “No 1” written on the left part of her Tshirts chest.
But not before the exchange of smart dialogs like:
People are such fools yaar. Anda Lo.
And definitely not before their hands fall on the evil book with a nose and a mouth. As one of the men leaf through the pages and the images of monstrous evil contained in the book are revealed to the camera, I saw on the left page of that ancient tome— the picture of Darth Maul from Star Wars Phantom Menace.
With the two couples engaged in amorous pursuits, the third wheel girl (Sweety) wanders out into the woods. Soon one of the branches get extremely frisky, tears up her clothes and pins her down to the ground, leaving us to wonder whether this belongs to the Shakti Kapoor family of ferns.
When Sweety comes back to the house, clad only in a white shirt and pink underthings, she undergoes a metamorphosis and starts speaking in an Amrish Puri voice while snarling in a way lesser performers would have struggled with.
Things start going downwards from here on. One of the heroes while making love to his supine girlfriend moves away her sheets to caress her feet and then finds, to his and the audience’s horror, that her feet has hair growth like Anil Kapoor’s backside. Soon he too is attacked and though one of the heroes keeps shouting “Don’t get panic”, the audience and the attractive college kids are by now running around like headless chickens.
The tension keeps rising as one of the heroes has to save himself by hacking to pieces his lovely girl-friend who has “turned”. In a scene which was the highlight of the movie, that tortured hero holds the severed hand of his undead girlfriend and kisses it passionately (shown above)—a scene which had traces of Othello. This was followed by this Shakespearian exchange.
Hero 1: Yakeeni naheen hota maine in haathon se aapne mehbooba ke tukde tukde kar diye (sobs)
Hero 2: (consoling) Woh ek chudail ban chooki thi raja. Woh ek khoon peene waali dayeen ban chuki thi (sobs)
Hero 1: (to “evil dead ” Sweety whose head is poking out through door): Shut up shut up you rascallllllll.
Presently one of the heroes runs out hoping to escape and the horny tree, being an equal opportunity-offender, ravishes him too in a very artfully picturized scene. Soon he too is undead, covered with tar and ketchup.
But he has one thing left to do.
He comes back from the forest to literally take a bite out of the other hero’s ass (picture below).
In a maddening conclusion that is guaranteed to chill you to the bone, mouths twist, eyes roll, froth comes out from undead mouths, orgasmic yells are sounded, blood squirts from beheaded necks like water spurting out through a leak in a Corporation pipe, and one of the heroes keeps shouting in a supremely girlie voice “Shut up shut up you beeeeeeech, Chudail khamosh ho jaaa”.
The director of “Bach Ke Zara” is in supreme command of his craft. He does not let the amazing special effects become the focus of the story but concentrates, like great horror directors, on tapping into some of our primal fears—like sentences that start and begin with “Yo baby” ,and “Yaar”, bad love-making, purple semi-transparent babydolls, long-haired effeminate heroes who think they are macho and of course guys biting other guy’s asses. The acting is needless to say top-notch in the best Ramsayian traditions, the camera work blinding and the pace of the narrative never flags.
In a year that has seen some of the greatest terrors of recent years, from repeated attacks on innocents to a history-altering global recession, when true horror lies in not knowing, everyday when you go out to work, whether there is a bullet or a piece of shrapnel or a pink slip with your name written on it , “Bach Ke Zara” is a gentle breeze from kinder, gentler times when evil was unleashed by reading spells from books with a nose and a mouth, when you were safe as long as you did not do “aiyaashi” and did not venture into the haveli late at night and when the most frightening things were bad acting, bargain-basement production values and unoriginal plots, with the cliches bringing with it the comforting pleasure of predictability.
So while today your nightly news might be much more bone-chilling than “Bach Ke Zara”, I can guarantee you it will not be so entertaining.
The most awesomely great movie of 2008. And in a strange way, heart-warming.