Shaitano Ka Honeymoon (1998)
Cast: Charan Raj, Dolly Minhas
Director: S. R. Rajan
Nutshell: An abandoned haveli in the middle of a fearsome jungle where a newly married couple take refuge with a sinister old woman as the caretaker. A ghostly figure draped in white singing a sad song. You get the picture?
Shaitano Ka Honeymoon begins with Charan Raj of Pratighaat fame enthusiastically off with his gorgeous new wife to the hills of Ooty to enjoy their honeymoon but just as they enter what looks like a very ominous jungle with bats and snakes peeking out from behind the shrubbery, their car comes to a mysterious halt. Charan Raj discovers that they axel has snapped and though his wife is thoroughly irritated they soon come upon a fairly well-kept Haveli attended to by a mother and son pair who give them shelter and put them up in one of the several rooms. Dolly Minhas takes an instant dislike to the old lady even though she appears to be nothing but helpful and welcoming and Ganga, her son helps out with errands and farms some of the adjacent land and wears a particularly resplendent moustache a little on the lines of the most impressive gods.
The next day the jungle seems to be quite bereft of trees and thick undergrowth allowing Charan Raj and Dolly Minhas to perform a sizzling synchronized dance before returning to the Haveli/Guest House where once again the mysterious old lady takes care of their needs and explains to Charan Raj a little bit about the history of the Haveli built by some old Raja Sahib to help those who happen to get lost in the forest. Clearly a man of keen foresight. All seems well and after a steamy lovemaking session thing start to go south as Dolly screams upon seeing a ghost prowling outside singing a lament about how wretchedly life has treated her like a path full of thorns. Charan Raj tries to pacify his wife and goes out to find the ghost and tell her to tone it down a bit but he doesn’t have much success. This ghost unlike many others in the genre doesn’t wear anklets thus making following her even more difficult than usual. To his dismay he returns a little later to find that Dolly is missing and is most befuddled. However, it seems he waits until the next morning, changes his outfit and then returns to his search in daylight but his efforts don’t bear fruit and Dolly seems to have vanished into thin air.
Disappointed and rather doleful, he returns to the room where he is surprised by some hideous cackling sounds a bit like those from Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead and following the sound, he figures that it is coming from somewhere below his room. He finds a secret door embedded in his room below the carpet and ventures the steps where the cackling increases in awful resonance. Once in the hidden basement he is confronted by a number of swaying skeletons and is pummelled by an unseen force until he conjures the courage to fight back. Ultimately, he finds a figure in a black hood and gives it quite a pounding but the hooded figure manages to escape but much to his relief Dolly is there and they safely reunited.
The newly-weds accuse the old hag of having
a sinister plan to cause all this havoc which she vehemently denies and stuns
them by telling Charan Raj that she was doing all this just to save her grand
daughter who she claims is in fact Dolly.
She also claims that Dolly has two warts on her back which turns out to
be untrue. Flummoxed and distraught the
old lady then explains that she was certain Dolly was her long lost grand
daughter Sonia who was the spitting image of Rajni (Dolly) and she proceeds to
explain in what turns out to be a very long flashback about the sad fate of Sonia
whose life was cut short by four hoodlums who stopped at the haveli 12 years
ago and caused havoc in their lives.
The film goes into familiar rape revenge territory with the four hoodlums committing a heinous act and then throwing poor Sonia’s corpse into a shallow muddy hole. However, the mud soon starts to ooze blood (arguably the films finest moment) and it’s not long before the four men are stalked and brought to justice in horrific style by the vengeful ghost of Sonia.
The horror is piled on thick as Sonia’s corpse returns to menace the evil doers one by one but once that plays out as expected there is still a twist in the tail that will have viewers gasping at the very end.
Charan Raj doesn’t quite have the presence he had in N. Chandra’s Pratighaat but cuts a stylish figure in his matching clothes and nifty dance steps. Dolly Minhas does full justice to her title as “Sensation of Beauty” but most impressive of all is M.N. Lakshmi Devi as Daadi Maa (The old hag). The make up effects are not the worst ever seen with pair of charred and bloodied hands being the highlight. There is almost some startling gore but its either been censored or doesn’t quite go far enough to be shocking. The cobra and the bat are featured frequently but never actually strike out and basically serve to provide a menacing backdrop to the jungle. Shaitano Ka Honeymoon follows the path of a multitude of other shoestring budget horror movies that it is entirely predictable for the most part but still, thanks to not over doing the songs and lacking tedious comedy sequences, it manages to roll along without putting the viewer to sleep.
One or two good moments and an excellent title but otherwise a run of the mill effort almost but not quite saved single-handedly by the sinister Lakshmi Devi, Shaitano Ka Honeymoon is strictly for the hardened addict of z grade Bollywood horror movies though technically this is a dubbed film probably originally in Telugu or Tamil. That said, to its credit there are no rubber masks, no sleazy excessive nudity (a shame!) and generally it doesn’t get bogged down with needless frills as in songs and comic torture so on the whole a pretty dire film but when the world is facing a Covid-19 pandemic, there could be worst films to trawl through to take your mind of some of the real horrors that humanity is confronted by.