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Producer: Vikram Bhatt, Surendra Sharma, Amita Bishnoi & Bhagwanti Gabrani
Director: Vikram Bhatt
Cast :Rajneesh Duggal, Adah Sharma, Anjori Alagh, Raj Zutshi, Vallabh Vyas and others
English horses, English palaces and English-dressed hero-heroine, all set in Palampur, a small town/village of India. That is one of the first horrors of Vikram Bhatt’s latest film 1920.
All said, it looks good, historical, architectural and ethnic accuracy can be a talk of dinner-time conversation or better still, film blogs. So it is on this jarringly discordant context that 1920 sets its future on.
A believing, God-fearing Arjun, divorces his belief in God when religion comes in between his love for Lisa, a Christian girl. He gives up everything he holds dear and moves to Bombay with her, soon to find he has landed a pet architectural project in Palampur. The project is the said English palace which needs to be torn down to be turned into a hotel. But the residing ghost has a severe objection and keeps killing every architect who comes forward to destroy it. Unaware of the history Arjun and Lisa move in, even as Lisa gets strange vibes. What follows is a story of possession, spirits, evil and hungry, religion and God, exorcism and of course a back-story.
1920 has all the elements of a horror film that the gracious Ramsay Bros acquainted us way back in the 80’s. Dark unlit haveli with endless corridors and rooms that have history, secretive Ramukakas who are scarier than the ghost themselves, a priest who is the answer to everything and the hero who ultimately has to become the undoing of the ghost like Mr India destroying Mogambo. 1920 does it all with a little more class and control but overall stands at the threshold of a B- grade film trying hard to frighten.
With reincarnating spirits, to uncanny noises, to gramophones, tales and chairs taking a life of their own to unbelieving husbands to secrets as grave as Tutenkhaman’s tomb it attempts to hold the narrative by the sheer power of its spook which has all been seen earlier.
The film boasts of some special effects, which even though strictly average are a tad bit better than other films of this genre have shown us but the predictability of the sequences do not let the graphics power any shot. How many more times will we see bodies flying out of beds and suspended, Houdini-like, in thin air. Although the black hole concept is striking and so is its execution everything else around it, more importantly the drama, suspense and the mystery of the ghost is depressingly like movies we have left behind in the dungeons of the 80’s.
The film, despite its genre gives an extraordinary platform for its debutante lead pair to perform and both do an amicable job. Adah Sharma, who initially has to play the coy, hesitant, confused wife, gets to turn on the histrionics when possessed and she performs energetically. Rajneesh Duggal, with his tall and lanky frame, and unusual looks, makes an unlikely hero but suffices for the worried estranged from God husband, who ultimately turns to HIM and saves his beloved from the clutches of the devil. Though he tends to go completely overboard in shouting match scenes in most others he performs with grace. Anjorie Alagh and Indraneil Sengupta have precious little to do in the senseless backstory.
1920 tries to pack in horror of the ghosts and superstitions as it were. It uses every used trick in the book and polishes it with a strangely evocative setting which becomes plastic because of no context and a general disdain for anything historical. Perhaps it was meant to be so, but then it stops it from becoming a good film either.