Sunday, November 29, 2015

Mahakaal (Shyam Ramsay and Tulsi Ramsay, 1993)

What starts off as a gripping horror movie, Mahakaal ("The Monster") slowly morphs into a sweeping romantic spectacle filled bright colours and... Oh, wait. Now it's morphing into a lavish musical complete with jeeps, fake movie rain and beach balls as far as the eye can see. Hold on, it's not a lavish musical. At least not right now it isn't. You won't believe this, but the film, directed by Shyam Ramsay and Tulsi Ramsay, has yet again morphed into something completely different. It has now morphed into a martial arts movie and... Just a second, never mind that, it's now a college-set comedy. Is this how most Indian films play out? Or does this just to apply to the films of Shyam Ramsay and Tulsi Ramsay? I know a lot of them are required by law to feature lavish musical numbers, no matter what the genre is. But this is ridiculous. And I mean that in a good way. Like any normal/relatively sane person, I was preparing to bestow copious amounts of perv-adjacent praise on the ultra-gorgeous Archana Puran Singh and her mouth-watering thighs. But for some kooky ass reason, Mahakaal decided to throw a ton of curve balls at me. So many in fact, that it almost hampered my ability to appreciate Archana Puran Singh's thighs. The key word there being "almost." Seriously, as anyone who has seen Archana Puran Singh in action will tell you, it's nearly impossible to hamper one's appreciation her shapely, out of this world organic structure. You're going to have to do more than make a horror/musical/martial arts/comedy/romance to cause me overlook the mind-altering beauty that is Archana Puran Singh in Mahakaal.

I think the reason Shyam Ramsay and Tulsi Ramsay tackle so many genres and tend to focus on Archana Puran Singh's legs has a lot to do with the fact that they're working in India. Given that they have a billion people to entertain, they have more people to please. And by mashing so many genres together, Shyam Ramsay and Tulsi Ramsay eliminate the possibility that they might alienate a segment of the audience.

As for Archana Puran Singh's legs. Even though it's the nation that gave us the Kama Sutra, I'm going go ahead assume that India, like, The United States of America and Canada, is a tad on the conservative side when it comes to depicting images of the female anatomy (a single bare nipple can cause riots in some parts of the U.S. and Canada). However, for some strange reason, this has never applied to legs.

In Hollywood, depictions of women's legs have been widespread going back to the silent era. What I'm getting is, no matter what year it is, women's legs have been front and center throughout the medium's history.

Well, the same logic seems to apply to Bollywood. Of course, I haven't seen as many Bollywood movies as I have Hollywood movies. Either way, judging by the way Shyam Ramsay and Tulsi Ramsay shoot Archana Puran Singh's legs in this movie, whether they're jutting delectably from myriad chic jean skirts or creamily dangling from a seemingly unending concourse of skimpy nightshirts, you can tell that Indian society has deemed lady leggage to be not only on the level, but totally tenable.

Unfortunately, the film ends up running well over two hours. Don't worry, I'm not blaming Archana Puran Singh's legs for the film's bloated running time. You see, in order to please everyone, every genre Shyam Ramsay and Tulsi Ramsay decide to tackle needs to be tackled multiple times. Meaning, we have to endure three musical numbers, two kung-fu brawls, two or three dating scenes, and, of course, the asinine antics of Johnny Lever, who plays Canteen, a Michael Jackson super-fan/Puma sweat suit-wearing/gay hetero-curious ass-clown.

In fact, the movie is so overstuffed with content, that I would occasionally forget that Mahakaal is essentially a horror movie about a deformed, knife-glove-wielding killer who stalks college students in their dreams.

Actually, the film has three kung-fu brawls. I completely forgot that Canteen battles rapists, as his alter ego, Shahenshah, in a crowded restaurant. I have since learned that the Shahenshah scene was lifted from another movie.

Anyway, when the film gets underway, it's pure horror. We're talking rattling chains, smoke and sinister music. Wandering through this nightmare-verse is Seema (Kunika), a woman who appears to be dreaming. Stalked by a demon wielding a knife-finger glove, Seema wakes up just as she is sliced on the arm. But wait, when Seema wakes up, the wound on her arm is still there. Oh, shit!

Meanwhile, Seema's pal, Anita (Archana Puran Singh), is putting a picture on the wall in a jean skirt. You heard right, I said a jean skirt! Anita's boyfriend, Prakash (Karan Shah), seems to be on the exact same page as me when it comes to Anita and jean skirts. Unable to control himself, Prakash grabs Anita, and starts carrying her around the room in a frenzied manner.

I like when Prakash greets Anita's parents, Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Reema Lagoo,  he says, " Namaste." He might be a tad on the grabby side when it comes to chicks in jean skirts, but Prakash knows how to greet people in a respectful manner.

We're quickly ushered to the college campus, where we find Anita, Prakash, Seema and her boyfriend, Param (Mayur Verma), chilling in the cafeteria. It's here we're introduced to Johnny Lever's Canteen, and given our first dance number. Well, it's not really a dance number, but Canteen does show us some of his moves. As Canteen entertaining the students, in walks Randhir, a.k.a. "Boss" (Dinesh Kaushik), the biggest douche on campus. Other than Canteen planting a big sloppy kiss on Randhir's mouth (much to his chagrin), nothing much happens after this.

What am I saying? Nothing much happens? Um, Prakash and Anita declare their love for one another via a long musical number. How long is this musical number, you ask? I didn't time it, but the fact it goes from being daytime to nighttime during the song is a good indicator of the its length. Now, I'm not complaining, as we get to see Archana Puran Singh prance around in a black bikini, a short black shirt and a bright yellow shirt (with no pants, of course) for an ungodly amount of time, it's just that I get it... Prakash and Anita are fond of one another, let's move on.

Uh-oh, I don't think Prakash is going to like the way Randhir is eyeballing Anita's thighs during class. Busting him for not paying attention, the teacher scolds Randhir in front of the entire class. Which, I'll admit, is pretty embarrassing. However, I was too busy admiring Param's white Siouxie and the Banshees sweatshirt to notice what the teacher was saying. Yep, you heard right, I said a Siouxie and the Banshees sweatshirt. Not a t-shirt, a sweatshirt! A SWEATSHIRT!!!!!

Since it's been awhile since anything horror-related has occurred, we're taken inside one of Anita's dreams. At first, her nightmare involves visions of Mohini (Baby Swetha), her dead sister. But her dream slowly starts to resemble one that Seema had. Meaning, lot's of rattling chains, smoke and sinister music. And, of course, a demon wearing a knife glove.

After getting sliced on the arm, Anita wakes up screaming. And like Seema, the wound is all too real.

As Anita is poking at her arm wound while sitting on the lush campus lawn in a tight orange dress, Randhir and his thuggish friends force themselves on her. Not to worry, though, as Prakash and Param swoop in and a karate brawl ensues. The fight choreography may be sloppy, but I have to say, I'm impressed by the sheer amount of entertainment currently being tossed in my general direction.

All that punching and kicking has clearly stressed out Anita and her friends. In order to rectify this, it's suggested that they have a picnic. And since one doesn't simply go on a picnic in this film, a long musical dance number about said picnic gets underway. One that features Archana Puran Singh in splashing around in the water while wearing skimpy swimwear.

Forced to stay at a hotel because of car trouble, Anita and her friends are shocked when one of them is murdered in their room. Of course, no one thinks a knife-glove wielding demon is the one responsible. Personally, I think Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Anita's police chief father, knows more about this than he's leading on.

The film's strongest horror-centric scene transpires soon afterward, when Anita and the demon come face-to-face in an ice factory. Not only is the scene suspenseful and junk, it features some of Archana Puran Singh's best jean skirt work yet. Seriously, I could watch Archana Puran Singh be chased by demons while wearing a jean skirt for hours on end.

While the film's comedic and romantic elements slowly melt away as the film progresses, the singing, the dancing, the kung-fu fighting and the knife-glove slashing continue unabated. It's true, I was somewhat exhausted after witnessing the second brawl between Prakash and Randhir, but the possession subplot and the nightclub song and dance sequence (featuring the killer Linda Blair-esque thighs of Asha Patal) are top notch in terms of enjoyment.

Sure, you could call it bloated, overstuffed and nonsensical, but you can't say it's not fun. And that's not something I can say about most films. No foolin'. While the majority of films are dreary and a real chore to sit through, Mahakaal is the complete opposite, as it is chock-full of nutty goodness. Singing, dancing, Porky's-style humour, rape-revenge, possession, jean skirts, rattling chains, creepy atmosphere, multiple brawls, beach balls, hedge clippers, Linda Blair-esque thighs (Archana Puran Singh and Asha Patel should have a thigh-off... judged by Linda Blair, of course) and a Siouxie and the Banshees sweatshirt! This film has it all.

Oh, and since I watched Mahakaal before Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street, I won't be able to review that film. Why? Well, Mahakaal and A Nightmare on Elm Street have eerily similar plots, and I don't feel like reviewing the same movie twice. Besides, Mahakaal is a hundreds times better. I mean, does Johnny Depp wear a Siouxie and the Banshees sweatshirt in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street? No, he doesn't. I rest my case.


  1. Nice! I write for Monster and Tim Paxton is the expert on Indian Horror

    1. Thanks. This was obviously my first Indian horror movie.