Purani Kabar (1999)
Cast: Rajeev Rai, Mohini, Kirti Shetty, Firdous Mewawala & Harish Patel
Director: K.I. Sheikh
Synopsis: Superb Hunchback heroics by Harish Patel fail to save a truly dreary affair
Though Bollywood horror films aren’t exactly a genre of movies renowned for quality, one can usually at least count on them for a bagful of unintentional laughs if nothing else. Purani Kabar’s cast, as is the norm for Bollywood horror, is one of fringe actors and aspiring starlets with the only known face being that of Harish Patel playing the role of Panday, a hunchback with a particularly virulent form of hunch which keeps on journeying from his neck to all parts of his back with alarming frequency.
Anyway, the plot, if one can call it that, revolves around a group of sleazy characters who each miss a massive lottery pay off by one measly digit. They discover that an acquaintance of theirs has the winning ticket and decide to coax him into sharing his bounty with them. Panday tries to persuade Vikram and his greedy wife into sharing the huge lottery prize but Vikram refuses and is later ambushed while driving through a forest late at night, brutally murdered and thrown into a shallow grave by Panday and his cohorts. Unfortunately for the killers, a passerby happens to witness their ghastly deeds and soon the witness begins to attempt to blackmail Panday and friends for vast quantities of cash.
The gang of criminals turns the tables on the blackmailer and murders him as well, disposing of his body as callously as they had done Vikram’s in the very same forest. However, later Vikram emerges in a zombiefied state to track down his killers and wreak vengeance on those who tried to swindle him out of his winnings. The action takes place around a hotel where shooting is going on for some cheap film and a cast of bimbo’s has assembled to provide fodder for our bloodthirsty zombie.
He soon gets down to business and presses his first victim to death with his shoe before graduating to more gruesome forms of killing. Though the zombie itself is much more impressive than the usual rubber mask wielding creatures of recent Bollywood horror – its appearances are far too infrequent to have a telling effect. The director relies far too much on large doses of comedy that make the movie truly painful to watch most of the time and the acting is generally awful but that is taken for granted in a production such as this. Director K.I. Sheikh has been unable to come to anything like a balanced blend between horror, comedy and the usual cheap titillation that is so much part of the genre. The scenes of horror total about a quarter of an hour and the rest is mostly lamentable attempts at comedy which are resoundingly unsuccessful. Harish Patel however performs heroically in his role as Panday the hunchback though his superb performance alone isn’t enough to save the film from being a turgid stinker.
Amazingly enough there are a couple of songs that aren’t too horrendous even if Chooee Mooee is about as unlistenable as a song could possibly get. This ultra cheap third rate shocker does truly shock but for all the wrong reasons. Purani Kabar’s amazingly inept and woefully tedious and even the die hard Bollywood horror fan (believe me, there are one or two out there) will be hard pressed to make it through the tedium without constantly bearing down on that fast forward button on your remote control – otherwise it simply cannot be stomached.