Cast: Sabiha Khanum, Ejaz Durrani, Habib, Nasreen, Deeba
Director: Mubarak Malik
Nutshell: Lollywood’s first horror film is an odd mix of Invisible Man and Spiral Staircase
Deewana can probably lay claim at being Lollywood’s first ever horror film. It was made way back in 1964 in the wake of the worldwide success of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho that suddenly had audiences craving for more cinematic horrors of the psycho killer kind.
Deewana starts off very mysteriously with the writhing body of a woman who appears to be in severe pain…we then switch to the present where we are shown a series of crimes being carried out by a man who is utterly baffling the cops because they cant see him. This opening sequence from Deewana takes inspiration from the Invisible Man and astoundingly the special effects aren’t a complete embarrassment even if Habib’s acting as a police inspector is. With his poker faced, utterly serious Marlowe impersonation (including private eye style raincoat) he is quite ludicrous and probably the most hopeless cop to ever grace any film. He remains stoic if utterly clueless in his attempts at solving the case of the invisible Psycho who is preying on innocent young women who have birthmarks or beauty spots on them. This bit is borrowed from The Spiral Staircase in which the killer is offing women who he views as being imperfect in some way and therefore abhorrent.
The audience is introduced to a stern professor of an institute of psychiatry where he is in charge of a small group of students among which are the dashing if rather thick Ejaz, the pretty nymph Deeba , a very odd loner who the director obviously wants everyone to believe is the killer and a few others. Deeba persuades her best friend to join the institute and thus the siren Nasreen arrives even if she seems to be an utterly hopeless student and it seems a miracle that she could have passed any entrance examination of any worth! None the less, her arrival spices things up at the institute as she organizes outings and frolics away from the boring environs of the lab. Unknown to her however is the fact that she is in enormous danger as she wears a rather becoming beauty spot high on her check thus making her a prime target for the invisible Psycho killer who has inspector Habib Clouseau spinning around in circles.
Ejaz becomes the police’s prime suspect as he seems to spend many a night away from the dorm of the institute and arrives mysteriously in the wee hours of the morning. However we discover that his basic aim in life is to snag fading beauty Sabiha (no doubt for her fortune as she appears considerably older than he is) so that he wont have to worry about working ever again. Thus his evenings are spent frolicking with Sabiha and visiting the local park for a sing song session whenever the mood takes them. Sabiha’s dad Ilyas Kashmiri is dead against Ejaz and thus we have a subplot that actually develops into the main thrust of the film leaving the elements of horror as a secondary thread. Nasreen provides a saucy number or two in her trend setting pedal pushers (for which she is scolded by the stern professor) before she is brutally murdered by the killer by having her face plucked and pinched by a leopard skin gloved invisible psycho! Meanwhile the director builds up his red herrings so that the audience can be delivered a huge twist when we finally discover who the killer is.
The film despite starting off with a certain amount of promise soon deteriorates into an insufferable bore. The intriguing aspect of the plot that involves the marauding psychotic invisible man is completely neglected while the audience is tortured by a series of long and utterly boring song and dance situations as well as the completely uninteresting romantic plot involving Sabiha, Ejaz and Ilyas Kashmiri. The five minutes of attempted horror provide the film with its few moments of fun and of course Nasreen’s antics are bewitching if a touch retarded. However, on the whole the film is a massive disappointment and one has to conclude that Zinda Laash which was made three years after Deewana remains Lollywood premier horror film by a mile with little or no competition to date. Deewana surprisingly managed a reasonable run at the Box Office without quite qualifying as a true hit, this no doubt due to its novelty value as being the first of its kind.