Chamunda (1999)

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Chamunda (1999)
Cast: Raj Premi, Satnam Kaur, Jyoti Rana, Haider, Afreen, Vinod Tripathi, Shabnam, Anil Nagrath
Director: Kishan Shah
Nutshell:  Evil deeds from the past rebound generations later as Saamri returns from the dead and embarks on a grisly spree of death and destruction.

200 years ago, Raja Pratap Singh ruled as Maharaja over his subjects but his folk and his land were living in mortal fear as death stalked them in the guise of an evil spirit by the name of Saamri.  The fear had spread like an epidemic among his people and rather than provide luxury for their lord.  One fine day Pratap Singh proceeds on an outing with his daughter Raghini when their royal carriage breaks down and they are forced to shelter in the middle of nowhere. While his minions are busy repairing the carriage Raja Sahib discovers that his daughter appears to have wandered off into wilderness and he grows increasingly nervous as night begins to fall.  One of his subjects informs the Maharaja that this area is known to be Saamri’s hunting ground at which point he orders them to carry out a search for his precious daughter.  Soon enough a tubby fellow wearing a black Primark overcoat and some rather crude white eye make-up arrives through billowing clouds of mist, cackling ominously as all evil men do. He then proceeds to strangle the Maharaja’s troupe one by one, displaying amazing superhuman strength as he lifts each victim off the ground while strangling them, Michael Myers style. 

Meanwhile we see that Raghini has wandered into an old Haveli where she starts to explore not knowing that Saamri is busy decimating her father’s entourage one by one and is homing in on the Haveli.  Upon seeing the chubby marauder Raghini passes out and just as Saamri is about to do something nasty to the poor child, Raja Sahib and his posse arrives in the nick of time.  A dreadful situation follows with Saamri relishing the confrontation but all of a sudden, his own demeanour changes abruptly when a Trishul borrowed from the nearby Mandir is brandished in front of him. Now the tables are turned and the marauding Saamri is now whimpering like a helpless child in fear of the holy trident about to poke him and end his reign of terror.  He is surrounded by the Maharaja’s men and then the old priest at the Mandir arrives to inform the others that Saamri has been a very bad boy and needs to be punished.  Saamri has been on a crime spree, raping women, killing children and drinking copious amounts of blood just for fun. 

It is decided that Saamri should be decapitated in the vicinity of the Mandir and his head placed in a box which be placed in the storage room of the Mandir.  But before his head is chopped off Saamri curses the Maharaja telling him that his family will never be able to flourish because any woman who ever attempts to bear a child will perish and thus his heritage will be ruined.  The Mandir wala Baba advises that in order to keep Saamri for rising from the dead and reclaiming his head and starting another rampage, the Holy Trishul be placed alongside the box which contains his severed head and that should ensure safety from any untoward return from the grave.

Years passed and most of Raja Pratap Singh’s family took to the city but one of his line decided to remain connected to the old grand style of living it up like a lord in the ancestral lands along with his sister Shakuntala.  He has a fine young daughter at college where he thinks she is attending classes for an education but in fact it turns out she is far busier being romanced by the local Romeo and singing disco numbers in the park at any given opportunity.  Alas, her father discovers her dalliance and reacts violently having the lad beaten up.  Any attempt to stop the romance meets in failure until finally he pleads to the young man that “if you really love my daughter you would leave her well alone for her own well-being” and then he proceeds to explain about he curse put on the family by Saamri two hundred years ago as being the reason.

This however is still not enough to deter his daughter who insists that they go to the ill-fated Haveli where Saamri once lurked to prove that such curses are redundant in this modern age of science where silly superstitions will not get in the way of her having many babies with the love of her life.  Soon, along with another couple it is decided that they will prove the whole Saamri curse a hoax and they head off to the old Haveli where soon enough things start to go bump in the night.

The rest of the film is as predictable as anyone who has watched a number of z grade Bollywood horror trash well testify to.  A bunch of hideous disco dances in the garden sprinkled over a sauce reeking with staleness but somehow the atrocious, wooden but admirably enthusiastic acting, appalling lack of continuity and the lack of any shred of artistry work in the movies favour and it jogs along at a canter until eventually reaching its risible conclusion.  Anil Nagrath is the best of a turgid lot but Satnam Kaur delights with her ghastly performance and Raj Premi’s dreams of making it big didn’t quite materialize. One of the actors is the girl who was in Kanti Shah’s magnificent Dracula and though not given much scope, still delivers her lines with misdirected verve. 

Its all pretty dire with Saamri in his overcoat with white blotches as eyeliner a sight for sore eyes but, there isn’t a rubber mask in sight nor is the film dogged by dreadful comedic sequences much to its benefit.  Regardless it is a cut price piece of crap that only die-hard fans of cinematic excrement can find joy in.  While not perhaps worth a second or third viewing as Dracula and Khooni Dracula and any film by Harinam Singh all are, this one is a piece of confounding garbage that still manages to stir the soul with its asinine formulaic rubbish.  Fortunately, both the YouTube version and the cut on VCD released by Moserbaer clock in at just about 78 minutes which is about as much as can be tolerated.  Dreadful stuff, but oddly, almost perversely enjoyable.