Cast: Poonam Das Gupta, Raj Premi, Sapna, Jr. Amitabh
Director: Kishan Shah
Nutshell: Obsessive stalker returns in an afterlife to exact hideous revenge
Tubby college girl Rekha has a stalker shadowing her day and night, showering her with the odd rose to proclaim his undying love. Fortunately though, she happens to be engaged to a super earnest cop who ought to be able to protect her from anything untoward – Alas, it doesn’t turn out to be the case.
Rekha is shocked when the stalker Ranjeet tells her that he is the person who has been littering the city with the corpses of young lovers in a Son of Sam style. He does this because of his obsessive love for her. Rather flattered by this attention if a little perturbed at the murders she decides to set a trap for the stalker and has him apprehended. Unfortunately for Rekha, her father the prosecuting lawyer proves utterly useless and Ranjeet is not sentenced for the murders but sent to a mental hospital, deemed too unstable to have been responsible for his actions. Rekha and her amorous college friends head for a remote forest camp house to celebrate Ranjeet’s incarceration.
Unfortunately it doesn’t take more than five minutes for Ranjeet to escape from the hospital and arrive at the camp house where the fun and frolics are already in full swing. Ranjeet confronts a scantily clad Rekha and swears revenge for her betrayal but she spurns him yet again. Her friends manage to nab Ranjeet and beat him so savagely that he dies on the spot. Now we have an I Know What You Did Last Summer scenario with the friends nervously disposing of the body and promising to keep the dark secret to themselves no matter what. However its not long before mysterious things start happening and the group of friends start wondering if Ranjeet did actually die.
One stormy night Rekha has her bedding unceremoniously removed and then her nightgown almost removed by a red rose, which appears as if a Hollow Man was carrying it! We have another nod to the same film when Ranjeet’s evil spirit appears unseen and makes out with a surprisingly willing Rekha. There is a particularly sleazy bit where Ranjeets spirit wearing the obligatory rubber witches mask starts bobbing up and down while we are shown shots of Rekha squirming in ecstasy! Gruesome stuff indeed.
The horrors start mounting as Ranjeets spirit starts making regular appearances and bumping off the randy students in the most gruesome manner. His method is simple, yet chillingly effective in that he corners his victims after surprising them out of the blue and proceeds to disembowel them with three pulverizing strikes to the body with his devastating claw-like hand. It’s interesting to see the director employ some “new” films to borrow from and in this case the “homage’s” fly so thick and fast, its difficult to keep track. Most of all, its very clear that the director has been watching quite a bit of Wes Craven because we have scenes out of Scream – and perhaps even the witch mask is an attempt at looking somewhat like Ghostface. There is an “obscene” phone caller menacing the lonesome girl scene and a highlight where we are actually shown a glimpse of the intestines, which have been gouged, from one of the deserving victims. Unbelievable levels of gore for Bollywood horror though mainstream cinema gets away with incredible scenes of violence, it seems that horror films have a different code applied to them.
We also have the reference to I Know What You Did and a couple of the death scenes are borrowed from the very original Nightmare on Elm Street film. But the most spectacular scene of all is the sensational levitation scene where one of the girls in the group suddenly becomes possessed and a heavy-duty steel hook and wire appear from the ceiling as she is yanked up into not so thin air! The sheer gall of the director has to be admired, as the wire employed to lift the woman has to be seen to be believed! Anyway, not only is the possessed girl made to levitate but also spin around in circles in the most horrifying manner! We are later treated to the rather stale tactic of the revolving head, which has been employed in countless films. There is another memorable Academy Award winning scene where a chubby beauty is ravaged by an unseen force from below (in a swimming pool) and drowned. The scene relies on the prodigious acting abilities of the actress and is quite a showstopper!
Just when all appears lost and Rekha it seems destined to be re-claimed by the vengeful spirit of Ranjeet, the remaining few from the group decide to turn to the local Tantrik as a last resort (What took them so long!) All sorts of terrors are unleashed as the nattily turned out Tantrik (though too slim for our liking) takes on the disemboweling rubber faced Witch-face. Will Ranjeet achieve his nefarious, ghoulish aims or will the tantrik be able to summon enough power to defeat the rampaging spirit?
Murdaa, which was a sizable hit, manages to move along at a rapid pace and despite sublimely rotten acting and a most fantastic plot (!) does manage to entertain in a perverse sort of way. It blends the stalker style with the usual vengeful evil spirit staple story-line fairly well and throws in the prerequisite number of sleazy situational songs where the audience is shown ample amounts of flesh along the way. The songs, it has to be said, were fairly catchy though the one Shaggy rip off was beyond sad.
While all of Bollywood trips over itself trying to match the special effect pyrotechnics of Hollywood producing hi-tech mega budget flops like Khiladi 420 – Murdaa and its ilk manage to tick over nicely by appealing to a slightly more idiosyncratic audience!
There is indeed life (rather death) after the Ramsay’s and the Bhakri’s! And it transpires after all that this Murdaa is merely a direct descendant (remake) of Bhakri’s Khooni Murdaa of the late 80’s!