Dhund – The Fog (2003)
Cast: Ammar Upadhyay, Aditi Govitrikar, Irfan, Apoorva, Prem Chopra, Tom Alter
Director: Shyam Ramsay
Nutshell: Beauty Pageant rivalry leads to psychotic protective brother going berserk!
Much excitement surrounded the release of Dhund – The Fog on the basis that it was seen as the return of the Ramsay Brothers in some shape or form. Touted as “The Ramsay’s comeback”, the film is in actuality not a Ramsay production and doesn’t bear the famous “Ramsay Films” banner at all. The only connection is that Shyam Ramsay has been roped in to direct this mystery-horror-thriller and for most of us Bollywood Horror buffs – one Ramsay is better than no Ramsay.
Once the disappointment of the film not bearing the official Ramsay “stamp of quality” was drowned with a couple of stiff Malted Vanilla Shakes, the lights were dimmed and the much anticipated chiller was bunged into the DVD player. The opening scene is of a wealthy looking drunken thakur-type arriving at a bizarre warehouse full of mannequins. The man douses the place with petrol before setting it ablaze but as he does this he is attacked by a shadowy figure that proceeds to strangle him to death – apparently the strangler manages to flee into darkness as the warehouse is consumed by flames.
The next half hour of Dhund – The Fog is devoted to the building of a romance between a foursome of typically brainless teenagers. The two lads are advertising film hot shots on the lookout for potential models whom they find in the form of two bimbettes played with appropriate airheadedness by new girl Aditi Govitrikar who was recently crowned Miss Universe or some such hugely prestigious title, and her sidekick. With the obligatory MTV style song and dance sessions over with, the film now begins to develop in a most intriguing manner. A beauty pageant is announced and Simrin (Real life Miss Universe) who has always won every contest she has entered (much to the disgust of childhood school archrival and fellow beauty contestant).
The sullen rival beauty withdraws from the Pageant knowing that yet again she will end up with the wooden spoon while Simrin will saunter off with the laurels, as always. Her Shahrukh Khan look-alike brother (Irfan) with a bad haircut decides to take matters into his own hands and comforts his bratty sister by promising her that this time victory will surely be hers. The evil brother takes to calling up Simrin and delivering dire warnings of doom to her if she goes ahead and contests the Pageant. First he tells her he will simply kill her if she competes but later that threat is changed to a milder one – disfigurement of her beautiful face with a vial of fresh acid!
Simrin holds firm, buoyed on by her friends and “chamchas” she goes on to romp to victory at the beauty pageant reducing her rival to the depths of despair – she tries to shoot herself but is saved in the nick of time by her demented brother who thereafter swears to “fix things” so that she never loses another beauty contest ever again! Thus the entire plot of the film is built upon this bitchy rivalry based on the local beauty pageant scene – rather exciting and novel for a Bollywood horror flick. And so the deranged psychotic brother decides to carry out his vengeance for little sister’s humiliation but ends up having the tables turned on him by Simrin and her friend who cut the fellow to ribbons and leave him for dead in a pool of blood. The boyfriends arrive to find their girls in a tizzy and in I Know What You Did Last Summer tradition the four of them decide to hide the body and carry on as normal. Then the film follows the Diabolique path as the corpse is tied up and left to sink at the bottom of a filthy, unused swimming pool, yet all of us watching know that its only a matter of time before the corpse disappears and starts showing up at most inopportune moments thereafter. And so, the humiliated beauty’s brother emerges from the pool to terrorize the four teenagers with a sharp rake like instrument he has acquired from the bottom of the pool no doubt.
Poor old Prem Chopra is hacked to pieces in a shopping mall as the killer goes on the rampage to exact his revenge, not only for his ugly sister but also for his own “murder”. The audience is left scratching their heads wondering who this figure is and how he could rise up again having been horribly killed by the girls’ just days ago. The film proceeds from one highly improbable situation to the next until finally the revelation arrives which is unfortunately wholly unsatisfying. The audience is supposed to reel in shock as we discover who the shadowy killer really is – a ludicrous, totally far-fetched and contrived twist that is as ridiculous as it is unconvincing.
Dhund – The Fog is a “time-pass” effort at best and shows little of the “style” and production values and indeed atmosphere that one associates with a Ramsay production, which of course this film isn’t. However despite plot holes the size of Texas and a complete disregard for logic, the film is mildly entertaining and fairly slickly produced. Alas there isn’t enough horror to satisfy genre fans and the deranged killer brother of the wannabe beauty queen simply isn’t sinister or threatening enough to frighten. To be fair his hairstyle is fairly scary but otherwise he just looks like Shahrukh Khan’s ugly brother and overacts just as much. The lead foursome are suitably dumb as horror movie fodder tend to be and the bombshell Miss Universe who is introduced in this movie is certainly attractive but has an awfully long way to go before she can start dreaming of becoming the next Ashwaria Rai. Good to see veterans Prem Chopra and Tom Alter still going strong.
Dhund – The Fog is not all bad, its mildly entertaining every now and then but the storyline is so hopelessly silly and contrived that it doesn’t really do the trick as a horror film and nor as a nail-biting thriller. Yet after watching the likes of Khooni Dracula, Maut and Bhayanak Panja of late, this comes across as a polished, sophisticated, thriller with a touch of class (excuse me while I fall off my chair laughing – again!).