Haveli Ke Peeche (1999)
Cast: Sohail Khan, Satnam Kaur, Ajay Sinha, Urmi Negi
Director: Vijay Chauhan
Nutshell: Turgid garbage with ghostly white sari-clad figure doing the rounds…yawn!
The titles are set to a typically racy Bappi Lahiri inspired disco theme with a soaring string section working overtime. This is followed by shots of a full moon and a couple of spindly wolves baying away while an owl watches over from a branch above setting the scene perfectly for the chills to follow.
An earnest voice over informs viewers about the background story involving a Thakur who lost his first wife and has since remarried but that all the family heritage is in the name of his younger brother and his lovely wife Madhu. Subsequently the entire family, indeed the entire community is plotting to get rid of the couple and claim the riches for themselves but strange things start happening at night and the plan soon begins to go terribly off course.
Late at night an eerie mist seems to form and a lady in a white sari looking strikingly like Madhu is seen striding around purposefully while a man dances around wearing an ape suit and a rubber mask! The inhabitants of the Haveli remain blissfully unaware of the wandering white sari clad woman but are rather worried by the ferocious nightly storms, the mist and the eerie sounds that they seem to be assailed by all of a sudden. They call in a Tantrik to check out Haveli fearing that it might be haunted. The wandering ghostly figure then sings her song of deadly intent while looking at the Haveli with extreme menace in her eyes. There is a murder and the ghostly woman is seeing fleeing the scene. The same Tantrik is summoned to help sort things out meanwhile Madhu’s young husband has to go away on work and the evil family find the perfect opportunity to try to do away with Madhu once and for all.
One dark and stormy night (which there seem to be a lot of in these parts) Madhu is assailed by various people wearing Cut price costume shop rubber masks which seem to drive her over the edge. The family bury her hastily and start dreaming of the millions that will come their way once the inheritance is redistributed the way they desired it. When Madhu’s young husband returns after his stint away in the city the family try to tell him that she was having a sordid affair behind his back and that they had to take matters into their own hands, but just as he is explaining this in walks Madhu – seemingly alive and well. Is this new Madhu a ghost as the family claim or is she an impostor or did the family kill somebody else by mistake and this is indeed the real Madhu?
Dark revelations are at the heart of the dramatic scenes that unfold and soon the mystery is solved with some fascinating plot twists and turns that nobody could ever have predicted. This film is an ultra cheap, horribly acted hotchpotch of family intrigue merged with horror elements (the rubber masks!?) which isn’t effective as either. The story is too contrived even for a crappy cheap horror flick and to actually even credit this film as being a true horror film is a matter that is open to debate as the most horrifying aspect of the film is its dreadful acting.
The cheap rubber masks used to create horror just don’t cut it and fog machines and white sari-clad beauties wailing away while they stride aimlessly in the fog bound forest is nothing more than a very stale Bollywood cliché.
This film has no redeeming feature at all and is a perfect example of how the post-Ramsay’s scene has horribly withered leaving horror fans with the most stinking dregs such as Haveli Ke Peeche, Khooni Dracula, Maut, Bhayanak Panja etc. There was a time when one would refer to the Ramsay films as being cheaply made and crude with kitchen sink special effects but after watching the new wave of Bollywood horror, one will have to reconsider.